Dirty teachers still get full pensions

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Dirty teachers still get full pensions

A famous poet who taught at a private middle school was dismissed in 2013 after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a female student in his homeroom.

The court slapped him with a 10 million won ($8,600) fine, but he is still receiving a monthly pension of 2.3 million won.

“The teacher served for 27 years and is receiving 100 percent of his pension accordingly,” said an official of the teachers’ pension service on Sunday. “At this time, there isn’t any means to reduce pensions for teachers who were dismissed for sexual assault.”

Most teachers guilty of sexual misconduct are receiving 100 percent of their pensions.

According to the Ministry of Education, the number of teachers who were given disciplinary action from 2009 to June this year for sexual offenses was 299.

Of those, only 37 people, or 12.4 percent, were given “expulsions,” which is the education authority’s strongest punishment, one step up from a dismissal. Teachers that are expelled only receive 50 percent of their pensions.

Whether a teacher is expelled or dismissed depends on how serious their crimes are, and the only difference in terms of punishment is the chopping in half of the pension.

“It is unfair that the pensions are reduced only for those who are expelled,” said Choi Mi-suk, president of the civic group Haksamo. “Teachers that are dismissed for sexual crimes must have their pensions reduced as well.”

Current regulations stipulate that teachers who commit sexual crimes with minors are dismissed. If the crime is particularly egregious, the teacher is expelled.

At this time, teachers who are dismissed only have their pensions reduced if they accept bribes or embezzle public money. The reduction is 25 percent.

“Accepting bribery was included as a reason for reduction in pension because civil servants and teachers took financial advantage of their positions,” said Lee Eun-yeong, an official of the Ministry of Personnel Management. “If necessary, we will review reducing pensions for teachers dismissed for sexual crimes.”

Teachers admit that the threat of losing part of their pension could prevent sexual crimes at schools.

“I personally oppose adding more reasons for reducing pensions,” said a teacher who requested anonymity, “but teachers would be definitely super cautious about their behavior.”

BY HWANG SOO-YEON AND KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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