August 24, 2023
SEOUL – A team that responds and handles parental complaints led by a school principal will be piloted at all schools starting next semester, the Ministry of Education said during a policy briefing Wednesday.
Under the new policy, all communication from parents and carers — including complaints, as well as informing teachers of the students’ absence or tardiness — will have to go through the school’s response team from September. Parents could also be reprimanded for complaining to teachers directly.
The move comes after teachers demanded school principals take more accountability to protect teachers’ rights.
The response team will consist of five people, including the school’s vice principal, administrative officers and public education personnel, the ministry said. The school principal will oversee the team.
Smaller complaints will be handled by the response team, while complaints that require a teacher’s cooperation will be passed onto teachers. For more complicated matters that risk violating teachers’ rights, complaints will be sent directly to the school principal.
As for complaints that cannot be independently handled by the school, a separate complaint response team will be established by the Provincial Office of Education. All schools and the Provincial Office of Education will pilot their own complaint response team, which will be officially established next year.
The Ministry of Education said it hopes to create a healthy communication channel between school representatives and parents through the newly established response team.
“I feel a great deal of responsibility that teachers had to face such difficult situations and challenges on their own,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Lee Ju-ho.
“The Ministry of Education will declare this year as a year to ‘restore education authority’ and will focus on creating an educational community that respects all students, parents and teachers.”
Complaints and requests must be made online through the National Education Information System and absence or tardy reports will have to be filed through the NEIS. Parents can also visit or call the school to register their complaints.
An artificial intelligence chatbot system will also be developed to respond to basic or repetitive complaints and to complaints made overnight or during the weekend, the ministry added.
With these new measures, teachers have a right to not respond to parents’ messages sent to their personal phones.
Parents who file complaints or make requests on behalf of their children will be seen as infringing on the authority of the teacher and will be required to submit a written apology, sign a pledge to prevent it from happening again and listen to a special lecture. Those who do not abide will be charged a fine.
Previously, teachers faced the risk of being reported for child abuse due to students’ rights being heavily emphasized over the rights of teachers, which made it difficult for teachers to discipline students without facing backlash from parents, including legal charges of child abuse.
The Ministry of Education also announced that they will support the amendment of the law to distinguish proper discipline from child abuse and to make it obligatory for investigators to listen to the school board before investigating the teacher.
Additionally, students who infringe on a teacher’s authority will immediately be separated from the teacher before disciplinary measures are introduced. If the student doesn’t abide by disciplinary measures, the student will face suspension and a note will be made on their school record.