Bill created to revise student rights ordinance

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Bill created to revise student rights ordinance

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education yesterday announced a plan to revise the city’s ordinance governing students’ rights, introducing more conservative regulations.

According to the city’s education office, the planned revision is intended to reinforce the authority of schools and teachers because the current ordinance - despite its positive contributions in protecting students’ rights - places too much emphasis on students’ individual liberties. One major change will include the modification of the clause governing nondiscrimination.

Under Article 5 of the current ordinance, discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, age, social status, hometown, native country, ethnicity, language, disability and appearance is strictly prohibited. In addition, it also bans discrimination based on family circumstances, race, economic status, ideology, political beliefs, sexual orientation, sexual identity, military service, disciplinary records and academic performance, pregnancy and childbirth.

The education office, however, said it plans to remove the nondiscrimination clauses concerning sexual orientation, sexual identity, pregnancy and childbirth, and replace those terms with the broader designation of “individual propensity.”

The office’s new plan will also allow for headmasters’ discretion in determining hair and dress code regulations for students. Exceptions to those rules will apply if students make rightful demands. Headmasters and teachers currently have no authority to regulate students’ hairstyles or clothing choices. In addition, the revised plan will allow school officials to search students’ belongings and restrict the possession of items banned by school policy. Searches must be announced in advance.

The education office said it will consult with the schools, students, parents, teachers and other relevant government offices to finalize its proposal. The bill will be submitted to the Seoul Metropolitan Council by the end of January, it said.

The current ordinance was adopted in 2011 under the leadership of Kwak No-hyun, the liberal head of the education office at the time. During last year’s by-election, Moon Yong-lin, the current education office head, promised to revise the ordinance to adopt a more conservative stance.

However, it remains to be seen whether the liberal Democratic Party-controlled city legislature will approve the revision plan to adopt the conservative changes.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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