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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

21 teachers stripped of license in five-year high

Twenty-one teachers were stripped of their license last year, 14 of them due to criminal convictions, a five-year high and twice more than in 2021, the Education Bureau said.
The 21 teachers saw their registration revoked due to serious professional misconduct, where 14 of them broke the law, and the remaining seven were for other serious misbehavior like "going beyond teacher-student relations", the bureau said in a Legislative Council paper last week.

Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin yesterday explained the number of teachers and teaching staff involved in criminal offenses.

The 14 teachers saw their registration repealed because of serious offenses such as sex-related crime, fraud, criminal damage or misconduct in public office.

The teachers are barred from teaching in any school to safeguard the well-being of students, Choi said in a written reply to lawmaker Tang Fei.

Sixteen other teachers who have been convicted with lesser offences, such as careless driving and teaching in an unregistered tutorial school, depending on the severity of the cases, received written warnings or verbal reminders.

In 2021, 11 teachers got written warnings and two received reprimand letters, however no one was issued a reprimand in 2022.

Choi said the bureau attaches great importance to the professional conduct of teachers and administers a strict mechanism to ensure all school teachers are "fit and proper persons."

"If teachers are suspected of involving in criminal offenses, the EDB will, after conclusion of the cases and completion of appeals, prudently examine all relevant information of each case, including the information provided by the teacher to the court and the judgment of the court, and consider the appropriate follow-up actions to be taken from the perspective of teaching professionalism."

Teachers whose registration is revoked are prohibited from teaching in any school, including at tutoring centers, or enter and remain in any school, in order to safeguard the well-being of students, Choi said.

She urged that schools should proactively report all suspected offences or misconduct cases involving their teachers to the EDB.

"Schools, as employers of teachers, have the responsibility to supervise their teachers and remind them of the behavior and conduct required," she explained.

Choi said the school should take disciplinary action complying with the Employment Ordinance and the terms of employment contract signed if teachers are found to have committed offence. Teachers in government schools will receive a penalty in accordance with the Civil Service Regulations and the Public Service Order.

The bureau had issued Guidelines on Teachers' Professional Conduct last December.

Behavioral misconduct or violation of the norms might lead to legal or serious consequences such as having the teaching registration terminated.
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