The legislature's Education and Culture Committee yesterday passed a preliminary review of a proposed amendment to the Teachers' Act (教師法) that would authorize schools to fire teachers found guilty of sexually assaulting students.
The amendment, proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), Chiang Lin-chun (江玲君), Chao Li-yun (趙麗雲) and 35 other lawmakers, stipulates that schools should have the authority to fire teachers after the schools' gender equality committee finds a teacher guilty of sexual assault.
Under existing laws, schools can only fire teachers who have been sentenced to one year in prison, have been convicted of corruption, are wanted by police, or have been deprived of their civil rights by a court or considered incompetent.
During a question-and-answer session with Vice Minister of Education Lin Tsong-ming (林聰明), Chao said there had been four cases of sexual assault on campuses in southern Taiwan between January and last month, but three of the teachers were still able to receive half of their salary after being suspended.
During a public hearing of the bill yesterday morning, Humane Education Foundation executive director Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) said the foundation had helped handle 18 sexual assault cases on campuses since 2005.
Among them, 16 teachers allegedly assaulted 49 students, but only nine of the teachers were fired, she said.
Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛), a Ministry of the Interior official, said at the hearing that ministry statistics showed 288 sexual assault cases took place at schools between 2006 and last year.
Up to 68 percent of the victims were minors, Chang said.
KMT Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝), who also attended the hearing, said it would be unfair if schools could not fire teachers who have sexually assaulted their students.
Feng urged the Ministry of Education to require that schools report sexual assault cases to the ministry and suspend or fire school principals found to have concealed cases.
Chang Mei-ling (張美玲), a ministry official in charge of personnel affairs, said the ministry supported the bill and would like to see the proposal clear the legislative floor as soon as possible.