Leering school principal sparks mutiny by staff

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Leering school principal sparks mutiny by staff

A group of teachers at an elementary school in Seoul ganged up on their principal because they couldn’t take his verbal sexual harassment anymore.

According to the Gyeonggi Uijeongbu Office of Education, 28 female teachers at an elementary school sent a petition to the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission saying the principal repeatedly sexually harassed them with alleged comments such as:

- “Are you really a virgin? You look like you’re pregnant.”

- “Come sit next to me. Not everyone gets to sit on my lap.”

- And to a teacher who said she had visited the dentist: “Why, did someone suck your lips too much?”

The petition to the Civil Rights Commission alleged that the principal, surnamed Lee, who was appointed in March, verbally harassed female teachers over 100 times. Of the 30 female teachers at the school, 28 signed the petition. The two exceptions were a teacher on pregnancy leave, and one who plans to retire soon.

Principal Lee received a presidential award for maintaining a school environment without violence in 2008, before being appointed to his elementary school post.

The Uijeongbu Office of Education investigated after the petition was submitted and confirmed some of the allegations to be true. Yun Yeo-moo, chief of general affairs at the office, said, “The confirmed verbal sexual harassments are very inappropriate, so I asked the head of the office to give the principal a heavy disciplinary action.” The principal most likely will be fired or suspended.

In another case, a high school teacher habitually harassed a female student in Seoul, according to the Seoul Office of Education.

The teacher, surnamed Lee, sexually harassed a student who came to ask him questions and continued harassing her until August 2009. Her parents complained to the school in October.

He was arrested last April because the parents wanted him punished, but was released in May after he and the parents came to an agreement. But the Seoul Office of Education plans to either fire or dismiss him.

“He avoided criminal punishment, but his actions prove that he no longer deserves to teach,” said Jung Dong-sik, chief of staff at the Office of Audit and Inspection at Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

By Jeon Ik-jin, Park Soo-ryun [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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