Retract order on student recordsKim Sang-kon, the Gyeonggi superintendent known for his liberal stance and experimental policies, called in the principals of 103 high schools to order them to delete records of violence and aggression from the files of all seniors as they prepare for the college admissions process.
Many of these schools have a number of seniors who have been suspended or have served time in volunteer and instructional programs for their involvement in fights or other acts of violence. Thanks to the superintendent’s order, their school violence records will not hamper their university applications.
Kim has increasingly voiced his opposition to leaving such incidents on student records since last month, citing the advisory from the National Human Rights Commission. He said leaving lasting scars on students because of their adolescent mistakes could violate their human rights.
Kim underwent a special audit by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for resisting the government’s February ordinance requiring schools to record acts of physical aggression as part of efforts to curb school violence. We can understand Kim’s desire to rebel against the ministry’s high-handedness, but ordering schools to erase the records is beyond his authority.
Schools are required by law to keep records on various policy violations as well as the academic performance of students. Teachers take pain in writing down objective and accurate individual student records.
If they are not comprehensive, these records lose credibility when students transfer to other schools or apply for higher education. To demand schools to ignore the policies on student violence is the same as making the act of violence against the student’s peer disappear. Kim neglected the victims in his illegitimate decree.
Universities and colleges are already aware that some high schools in Gyeonggi, Gangwon and North Jeolla, where liberal education chiefs are in charge, have begun to erase information on violence or do not keep records at all.
The Korea University Education Council, a body of university presidents, warned that universities will scrutinize school records and verify their validity with schools when necessary. Kim should retract his order. If he is sincerely concerned about the students’ futures, he should instead encourage schools to keep records on how problem students have changed over the course of their studies with the potential of development with the right counseling and guidance.