Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Harassment goes unpunished due to loophole: NPP

POWERLESS:The law does not provide the Ministry of Education with the means to enforce sanctions announced for teachers at the schools it oversees, the party said

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung, center, yesterday speaks at a news conference in Taipei as National Federation of Teachers’ Unions president Chang Hsu-cheng, left, and Humanistic Education Foundation executive director Joanna Feng, right, listen.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) yesterday called for legislation to punish schools that fail to discipline staff found guilty of sexual misconduct, after the Ministry of Education admitted that it has been “frustrated” when trying to have disciplinary measures executed.

The ministry has failed to ensure that sexual misconduct on campuses is punished, Hung told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, citing a sexual harassment case at a private vocational high school in Taitung County where disciplinary measures anounced three years ago have still not been carried out.

Former Kung-tung Technical Senior High School principal Lan Chen-fang (藍振芳) in 2015 was found guilty of sexually harassing a female student, after the ministry received a tipoff and investigated the matter.

A report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily said that Lan frequently made telephone calls and sent text messages to the student trying to seduce her, writing: “I want you to be with me” and “I owe you a lot from our previous life.”

The ministry that year ordered that Lan attend eight hours of gender equality education classes and apologize to the student, but he has done neither, Hung said.

The school sent Lan on one month of paid administrative leave and allowed him to teach until he “retired with honor” on June 1, she said, adding that he now holds an administrative position at a private school in Taoyuan, where he trains teachers and student recruiters.

While the ministry fined the school’s board members NT$100,000 each for failing to carry out the disciplinary measures, they have not paid the fines, Hung said.

“As the regulatory authority for schools, the ministry is powerless when a teacher or school board refuses to follow orders and execute punishments” for sexual misconduct, Hung said.

That is because the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法) does not stipulate any punishment, she said, adding that she would propose an amendment to the act to introduce penalties for schools that fail to carry out disciplinary measures for sexual misconduct.

Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) agreed that there is room for improvement.

“We have found this particular case frustrating, but that does not mean the perpetrator will escape punishment,” he told Hung at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee later yesterday. “The public’s criticism will push us to improve our handling of such issues and we hope to work with legislators to improve the legal system.”

In related news, under draft amendments to the act passed in committee yesterday, those who sexually harass others and refuse to comply with disciplinary measures or cooperate with investigations by gender equality committees without presenting due cause could be fined NT$10,000 to NT$50,000.

The bill would also require schools or supervising agencies to notify other institutions within a month if a student or a faculty member who has sexually assaulted or harassed others and is deemed to require monitoring and counseling changes employer.

Additional reporting by Su Fang-he

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