With Kwak’s arrest, his liberal policies in limbo

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With Kwak’s arrest, his liberal policies in limbo

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The liberal policies championed by Kwak No-hyun, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, since his election are now in limbo after his arrest on Saturday on allegations of bribing a campaign rival to withdraw from last year’s race.

On Saturday, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education began delegating Kwak’s duties to the deputy superintendent, Im Seung-bin, even though Kwak would be suspended from his position only if prosecutors formally charge him. “As signing approval while under arrest is impossible, the deputy superintendent will take over the authorization,” an official from the education office said.

Im spent the last day of the Chuseok holiday at his home yesterday studying projects that were being pushed ahead by Kwak, but many expect the embattled superintendent’s policies to be in limbo for a time.

“Kwak has been working hard on some policies, but there are many things that should be considered from the deputy superintendent’s point of view,” said Jeon Hee-du, director of planning and management at the education office. “As the current situation is quite complicated, we’ll make decisions after full consideration.”

A high-ranking official from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said, “As Kwak is under arrest, the deputy superintendent, who acts as a bridge between the central and local governments, will make correct decisions.”

The official added that the deputy superintendent cannot act independently as the position is filled by the education minister. A draft ordinance on students’ rights that was released on Sept. 7, for example, is set to go up in smoke after Kwak’s arrest. It was scheduled to go into effect next year but has been held after Seol Dong-keun, vice minister of education, requested Im re-examine the policy.

The free school lunch program, set to expand to all elementary school students starting this fall, is also likely to be held until next year as both the positions of Seoul mayor and education chief are now vacant. Plans to expand the program to all elementary and middle schools by 2014 are also likely to be postponed. Kwak was elected superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education in June 2010, boosted by his clean image after his scandal-ridden predecessor, Kong Jeong-taek, was removed from office in 2008 on a bribery conviction.

“Three consecutive years of work being deputized to the deputy superintendent in the education office is causing great disorder,” said an official from the education office. “The intensity of disorder this time is greater than previous years because of different policy views between the office and the Education Ministry.”


By Yoon Suk-man, Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

곽노현 사실상 직무정지

임승빈 부교육감 대행체제로 ‘옥중결재’ 할 수 없는 상황
“무상급식·학생인권조례 표류”

곽노현 교육감이 정부와 대립하면서 밀어붙였던 체벌 전면금지 등 14개월간의 진보교육 실험도 기로(岐路)에 섰다. 교육감 업무는 검찰 기소 후 정지되지만 곽 교육감의 구속(10일)과 함께 시교육청은 사실상 부교육감 권한대행 체제에 돌입했다.

 임승빈 부교육감은 13일 자택에 머물면서 업무 파악에 나섰다. 시교육청 관계자는 “다음 달 국정감사에서 답변을 해야 하기 때문에 감사 준비에 들어간 것으로 안다”며 “다른 일상적인 사안 역시 부교육감 선에서 결재가 이뤄져 ‘옥중결재’는 실제로는 불가능하다”고 말했다.

  곽 교육감이 추진 중이던 정책은 표류할 가능성이 크다. 전희두 기획조정실장은 “임 부교육감이 종합적으로 고려해야 할 부분이 많다”며 “주변 상황이 복잡하기 때문에 충분히 고민하고 결정할 것”이라고 밝혔다. 교과부 고위 관계자도 “중앙정부와 지방정부의 가교 역할을 하는 부교육감이 잘 판단할 것”이라고 말했다.

 당장 시교육청이 7일 초안을 발표한 학생인권조례는 무산 가능성이 높다. 이달 말 입법예고를 거쳐 내년 실시 예정이었지만 8일 설동근 교과부 차관이 임 부교육감에게 재검토를 요청하며 제동을 걸었다. 2학기부터 초등학교 전 학년으로 확대하려 했던 무상급식도 서울시의 예산지원을 논의할 시장과 교육감의 자리가 공석이 돼 2학기 실시는 물 건너갔다. 서울형 혁신학교나 2013학년도(현재 중2) 고입부터 폐지 또는 축소키로 했던 고교선택제 역시 불투명하다.

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