Prestigious prep school accused of rigging apps

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Prestigious prep school accused of rigging apps

Hana Academy Seoul, a prestigious boarding school in the posh Eunpyeong District, rigged its admissions process between 2011 to 2013, Seoul’s education authority said Sunday.

A special investigation team under the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has found after a two-month probe that the high school in northern Seoul, which selects some 200 students each year, gave additional points to male applicants to increase the number of boys admitted.

The Ministry of Education allows high schools to artificially adjust the gender balance of their students, but only after consulting with the ministry, a requirement Hana Academy Seoul neglected.

Some 30 students were found to have been affected by the scheme each year. The admissions rate is typically 2.5 applicants per spot, according to the school’s website.

Nine people from the school, including Hana Financial Group Chairman Kim Seung-yu, a member of the board of the Hana School Foundation, will be charged for violating domestic laws on running private schools.

If they are convicted, the school may be stripped of its autonomous private high school status.

Hana Academy Seoul was established by the Hana School Foundation, which operates under Hana Financial Group.

Seoul educational authorities also said the school has obfuscated the way in which it hired teachers over the past five years, violating municipal laws that mandate transparency in the hiring process.

Hana Academy Seoul is also suspected of favoring companies contracted with Hana Group, hiring them for projects worth 14 billion won (about $12 million) in total. Projects worth more than 50 million won in Korea must undergo a public bid.

A source from the school admitted that extra steps were taken to adjust the gender ratio, but denied any malicious intent.

“[It was] simply to have an even number of both genders,” the source said.

According to the source, the school will file an objection and take the case to court.

The case was initially brought to light earlier this year, when a teacher at the school who took part in the admissions process in 2010 and 2014 reported irregularities to the authorities.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, BAEK MIN-KYUNG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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