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Elementary school teachers fired for coercing students

TAIPEI--Miaoli County Government approved a proposal to fire three elementary school teachers after they were found to have extracted confessions out of their students under duress.

Liu Huo-chin, the county's education chief, said the three teachers, surnamed Chang, Wang and Lin, “tried” students for hours on suspicion of perceived infringements, by means of “near coercion.”

Liu said their actions possibly violated the students' rights to education, their personal freedom, involved possible criminal responsibilities and certainly went beyond teachers' rights to discipline students.

The three teachers, members of a group of seven female teachers who call themselves the “Magic Party,” were accused of locking a male student in a classroom and forcing him to write a confession when they suspected him of peeping at one of their clique while she was breastfeeding.

Local media reported that the student was kept in the classroom for five hours.

In another case, the teachers were reported to have kept a female student in a classroom for three hours and even forced her to take a written polygraph test when they suspected her of having an intimate relationship with a male teacher from the same school.

The Chinese-language Next Magazine reported in September that members of the clique have also been accused of using inappropriate words to students and of “bullying” students, parents and fellow teachers.

A total of 11 fifth-graders transferred to other schools this semester because they did not want to be in the seven teachers' classes, the report claimed

Yu Hui-ju, the school principal, said a board of 15 people comprising herself, teachers and a parent representative voted on Oct. 23 to reach the proposal to expel the three from the faculty.

Chen Chih-hsueh, who represented parents at the meeting, said the decision to fire the teachers was “reasonable” and “should have been done a long time ago.”

He said he hopes the teachers' departure can help students return to the normal track of learning and en sure teachers focus on teaching.

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