Seoul school stripped of elite status

Seoul school stripped of elite status

Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education confirmed Thursday its decision to strip an elite school of its status, after it did not meet the required standards of the public office's evaluation and repeatedly failed to show up for hearings.

The SMOE said it will proceed with the process of canceling the designation of Seoul Foreign Language High School as a foreign language high school, which specializes in foreign language education and is widely considered elite through its selective student admission process.

"Even though we gave the school three chances to explain itself, they (school officials) did not respond. Therefore, we could not find any particular reason to withdraw or change our decision," said an SMOE official.

The Seoul office will seek Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea's consent tomorrow, he added.

Under Korean law, the minister of education must either consent or decline the request for designation or cancellation of a special purpose school within 50 days of receiving the said request.

Last month, the SMOE announced that two special purpose schools ― Seoul Foreign Language High School and Younghoon International Middle School ― failed to meet the requirements necessary for redesignation as de facto elite schools.

Younghoon, however, will not be facing the axe, as it was granted a two-year grace period to comply with SOME's measures.

The school presented specific plans for improvements, SMOE officials said, and will be reevaluated after two years to see if it has followed the plans.

Initial expectations in the education circles was that Younghoon may be stripped of its status due to its recent admission fraud in 2013.

According to Korean law, any school that is involved in admission fraud can be revoked of their privileges as an elite school regardless of the evaluation results.

But an SMOE official pointed out that the clause mandating the automatic status downgrade was added in February 2014. Since the admission fraud occurred in 2013, it is not subject to punishment, he said.

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