School Director Under Probe for Pulling Gun In Front of Students

Students flee as Sayan Chaleephol brandishes a gun at Thepha School on Feb. 4, 2021.

SONGKHLA — Students at a public school in Songkhla were told to study from home on Friday after their director brandished a handgun at a school assembly.

Thepha School administrator Sayan Chaleephol, 60, pulled out his gun in front of scores of students on Thursday, sending the children crying in alarm and running for cover. Prior to the incident, Sayan was apparently in distress over the allegations that he was having a sexual relationship with a Matthayom 3 student at his school.

“I apologize to everyone again. I told you that I would make this more famous than what they did,” Sayan said while students were assembled for their daily flag raising ceremony. He then pushed aside his suit, revealing a gun.

Sangkorn Rakchucheun, director of the local education office, announced on Thursday that Sayan was transferred to an inactive duty.


Police have yet to charge the school director. Local police chief Col. Thammarat Petchnongchum said an investigation is ongoing.

“He was brought here and he handed over his gun willingly,” Thammarat, Thepha Police Station superintendent, said by phone. “He could be accused of carrying a gun, although it is correctly registered to him.”

Col. Thammarat added, “He probably won’t flee. That’s my personal feeling.”

Sayan was already under a criminal investigation after the mother of a Matthayom 3 pupil filed a complaint to the police, accusing Sayan of having a relationship with her daughter, Col. Thammarat said.

Reports from some eyewitnesses at the scene said Sayan looked like he was planning to harm himself rather than other students.

But to ensure the safety of students, school deputy director Banjob Pisuppitan said the pupils would do online learning for Friday. In-person class will resume on Monday.

“We want the students to relax a little,” Banjob said. “The students’ education won’t be affected at all.”


Banjob said he had not talked to Sayan since, and could not comment on what Sayan had said at the school assembly. Banjob said he was the first person to tackle Sayan after he pulled out the handgun.

“He didn’t use any swear words. He was just talking about his determination in developing the school. In work, it’s normal to have disputes,” the deputy director said. “He said he didn’t do anything with students and asked for forgiveness.”

A call to Sayan’s registered phone number was picked up by a woman who said the school director was unavailable for an interview, before hanging up.