The National Assembly on Thursday passed four laws aimed at enhancing protection for teachers against harassment.
One of the reforms prohibits schools from removing a teacher from their position without probable cause.
The reform on the Special Act on the Improvement of Teachers’ Status and the Protection of Their Educational Activities received unanimous support from the National Assembly, with all 286 legislators voting in favor, transcending party lines.
Previously, many teachers faced immediate removal from their classrooms as a disciplinary action when complaints were filed by parents or students, including cases of emotional abuse.
These actions were immediately put into effect even before the teacher could argue their side of the story.
Under the new changes, school principals will be prohibited from minimizing or covering up actions that may have violated a teacher’s rights or their educational activities.
Disciplinary action taken against students for valid reasons will no longer be considered child abuse, under the newly reformed Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Parents will be barred from infringing upon the rights of teachers and other students and school principals will now be held accountable for addressing complaints made by parents.
This reform initiative follows a series of suicides by teachers who were reportedly harassed by students’ parents.
The death of a 24-year-old teacher at Seo 2 Elementary School in July sparked nationwide protests by teachers, demanding improvements in teacher’s rights and protection against aggressive and overbearing parents.
Another case involved a teacher at Uijeongbu Howon Elementary School in Gyeonggi, who committed suicide in December last year after enduring relentless harassment by a parent.
The parent incessantly called and texted, irrespective of the time of day, demanding that the teacher pay for plastic surgery for an injury sustained by their child while cutting a plastic bottle in class.
A teacher in Daejeon, with 24 years of experience and a mother herself, took her own life earlier this month after being harassed by four parents since 2019.
Despite having moved to a different school earlier in the year, she continued to face harassment, as she lived in the same neighborhood as the parents.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]