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Child with Disabilities Denied Education at international school, Commission Seeks Justice
Date : 2024.01.25 17:58:31 Hits : 302

Child with Disabilities Denied Education at international school, Commission Seeks Justice


The National Human Rights Commission of Korea referred to the Public Prosecutor a foreign school Director General who refused to allow a disabled child to return to school. - It recommended that the respondent principal cease the discriminatory behavior and fulfill his accommodation obligations.


On 19 December 2023, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chairperson Song Doo-hwan, hereinafter referred to as the "NHRCK") filed a report of a International School which discriminated against children with developmental disabilities by not allowing them to return to school with the Prosecutor General for violation of the prohibition of discrimination in Article 4 (2) of the Act on Special Education for Persons with Disabilities and made recommendation to the School Manager and Director General of the Respondent School for the remedies of the discrimination. 


The NHRCK recommended that the School Manager of the Respondent School △take disciplinary action against the General Director, △provide human rights education to staff and others to prevent discrimination against students with disabilities, △and take measures to prevent discrimination against students with disabilities in school life, including admission, attendance and instruction. 


The NHRCK also recommended that the General Director △cease discriminatory acts against the victim, such as not allowing the victim to return to school, △and fulfill its obligations to provide reasonable accommodation, including the provision of support staff, in accordance with the Act on the Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities and the Remedy of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as the "Disability Discrimination Prohibition Act") and the Special Education Act.


The complainant is the father of the victim (a 4-year-old boy with a developmental disability) who enrolled in the respondent school in January 2022 and attended the 3 and a half year old class from 10 August of the same year. The complainant filed a complaint with the NHRCK, alleging that the respondents, the primary school principal and the General Director, criticize the victim's behavior and treatment about his disability and urged him to withdraw from school and did not allow him to return to school. 


In response, the respondents claimed that the complainant had violated the school's rules by failing to inform them of the victim's disability prior to enrollment. Also, the victim had behaved in violation of the school's rules by failing to keep the school hours, that the school had made efforts to improve the victim's behavior like meeting with the complainant on an ongoing basis. They claimed that they had not refused to allow the victim to return to school.


However, the NHRCK's investigation found that the respondents had recommended that the victim withdraw from school, citing behaviour arising from the victim's developmental disability, and that when the victim attempted to return to school after taking a leave of absence with the respondents' consent, the respondents refused to allow him to do so without reasonable explanation. It was also confirmed that the complainant refused to provide him with reasonable supports. The complainant tried to hire a paraprofessional at his own expense to help his son at school but the school disallowed.  


The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability found that the respondents' actions constituted discrimination under Section 4 of the Disability Discrimination Prohibition Act and discriminated against the victim in violation of Section 4 of the Act on Special Education Act. It is generally recognized that students with disabilities are likely to face various difficulties in school life, and the State and local governments are legally and institutionally obliged to provide an integrated educational environment for persons with disabilities and special educational needs in accordance with Article 18 of the Basic Education Act, and to provide education that takes into account the characteristics of the type and degree of disability in accordance with the life cycle, thereby contributing to their self-realization and social integration (Article 1 of the Special Education Act).


In addition, Article 4, paragraph 2, item 2 of the Special Education Act stipulates that "exclusion from participation in classes, student self-government activities and other activities within and outside the school" shall not discriminate against students with special education and their guardians, unless it is clear that the exclusion is for the purpose of implementing education that takes into account the characteristics of the disabled person.


Furthermore, the respondents responsible for education shall not limit, exclude or deny the participation of persons with disabilities on the grounds of disability in any on-campus and off-campus activities, including learning, such as special classes, experiments and practical exercises, field trips and school trips, in accordance with Article 13 (4) of the Disability Discrimination Prohibition Act, and, as educators, the complainant should have actively sought information about the victim's behavioral changes in order to allow the victim to return from leave, but they did not provide information about the victim to the respondent school and did not allow the victim to return on the grounds that he was causing significant disruption to education activities.


The NHRCK recommended that the respondents be charged with violating Section 4(2)(2) of the Special Education Act and that the respondent School Manager cease the discriminatory acts, including not allowing the victim to return to school, discipline the Director General and implement human rights education and policies to prevent similar discriminatory acts from occurring.

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