Objections fly over status of 8 elite high schools

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Objections fly over status of 8 elite high schools

Seoul’s educational authority appears to have been cornered in its effort to reduce the number of autonomous private high schools, considered elite high schools, following strong objections by the Ministry of Education and school principals over the decision.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education recently evaluated 14 of the 25 autonomous private high schools in Seoul and announced Monday that they would strip eight that did not meet a certain standard of their status.

The eight autonomous high schools were: Kyung Hee, Sehwa, Soongmoon, Shilil, Wooshin, Choong Ang and Ewha Womans University high schools.

The law stipulates that autonomous private high schools must be reexamined every five years to determine if they remain qualified to maintain their status.

All 14 passed an evaluation earlier this year under former Superintendent Moon Yong-lin’s term.

However, the education authority conducted another examination with additional factors after the election of Cho Hee-yeon, who took office following local polls in June.

The Ministry of Education announced after the last assessment that it would dismiss the request to cancel the status of the eight autonomous private high schools.

“If [the education authority] revokes their status, we will issue a corrective order,” a ministry official said.

Yesterday, the principals of 25 autonomous private high schools in Seoul held a meeting, during which they concluded they will not accept the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s decision. “We will take legal action against Cho, who ignored regulations and proper procedure,” said Kim Yong-bok, the principal of Pai Chai High School and the leader of the group.

But despite resistance, the education office has stood its ground, especially when it comes to the question of who has the authority to strip the schools of their status.

When asked if the Seoul’s education office would push ahead its decision, Lee Geun-pyo, the head of educational policy division, answered, “We are not pushing it ahead, but just exerting the authority [of the superintendent].”

The education authority has indicated that the superintendent has the ultimate right to revoke a school’s status in accordance with the law, which states that “superintendents may cancel the designation for autonomous private high schools after discussing [the matter] with the education minister in advance.”

The ministry said yesterday that it will revise the law’s wording to prevent the Seoul’s education office from stripping autonomous private high schools of their status without proper rationale.

However, the announcement didn’t seem to hold much sway with the education authority. “We don’t have a say in the revision because it is the government’s decision,” said an official at the education office, “but the revision does mean that the superintendent has the authority until the regulation is revised.”

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



















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