Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Schools protecting abusive teachers: group

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Humanistic Education Foundation executive director Joanna Feng, third left, is flanked by Democratic Progressive Party legislators Chang Liao Wan-chien and Lee Li-fen, first and second left, and parents of abused students as she speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Humanistic Education Foundation yesterday called for stricter regulations on teacher misconduct after instructors who were found to have mistreated children were allowed to keep their jobs.

The foundation, which provides assistance to parents whose children have been physically or emotionally abused by educators, has repeatedly seen unfit teachers continue to teach at the same school, despite government intervention, foundation executive director Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) told a news conference in Taipei.

In a case the foundation took up in January, a first-grade student with autism in a special class at a Hsinchu elementary school was beaten with a stick by his teacher for biting his nails in November last year, the foundation said.

The teacher did so in front of the boy’s mother and told her that hitting children is “more effective,” it said.

The father hid a recording device in his son’s bag after he noticed that the boy had become more irritable and anxious, and was having problems with incontinence, it said.

In one recording, a teacher and an assistant can be heard deliberately provoking the boy until he begins to cry and act out, in an attempt to film a video showing that the child was the problem, the father said.

“I could only bear to listen to the recording on the first day. After that I had to ask other people to listen to for me,” he said.

In another recording, the assistant can be heard beating and yelling at the child after he was found eating a cookie in class.

“Do not dare to eat someone else’s food. I will beat you to death,” she yelled at the crying boy, before forbidding him to eating lunch as punishment.

“If you dare eat your food, you are finished” another teacher can be heard saying.

The assistant then told the teacher to remove the child’s lunch box, to pretend that he had eaten it, adding: “Do not let his mother know he did not have lunch.”

During its investigation, the foundation found that the assistant and two teachers had mistreated other students before, it said.

One of the teachers was fined NT$60,000 by the Hsinchu City Government in November last year after she caused extensive bruising on a child’s back, bottom, thigh, knee and arm in September, it said.

Another teacher was in 2016 accused of force-feeding a special needs student and making him hold chili pepper water in his mouth, it said, adding that the teacher later said they had used chili pepper water to “train the student to gargle.”

In the same year, the assistant was accused of hitting a student with a ruler and slapping him in the face, it said.

The school’s internal investigation committee examined all evidence gathered by parents and the foundation, and concluded that the teachers and assistant used “inappropriate language” and “inappropriate teaching methods,” Feng said.

However, the school only required that the teachers undergo a two-month “special consultation” and gave one of them a major demerit, she said.

Although it fired the assistant, the stated reason was “a C performance rating,” rather than mistreating students, she said.

Because she was not fired for using violence against children, she would still be allowed to work at other schools, Feng added.

“Teachers on internal committees turn a blind eye to each other’s faults, which makes firing a teacher very difficult, even when they admit to mistreating children and when there is clear evidence,” she said.

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