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Dispute at Sangmun High School deepening

Posted March. 02, 2001 19:11,   


A controversy over the return of former board members at Sangmun High School in Seoul is worsening after the board unilaterally appointed the school`s principal. The conflict resulted in a delay in the start of a ceremony to welcome new students Friday.

A lawsuit is now pending over board`s return and further legal steps are expected over the naming of the new principal, only dentified as Chang, to replace Chung Hang-Shi, 62, whose term expired at the end of February.

About 50 teachers and 30 graduates wore masks while staging a sit-in protest at 6:30 a.m. Friday, having earlier locked the main gate to prevent Chang from reporting to work. Later some 1,600 students joined the demonstration.

The new principal attempted to enter the school grounds at 8:40 a.m. but was turned away by the protesters. ``I`m really sorry that I have no way to resolve the dispute and normalize the school`s operations,`` he said. ``But I will attempt to take legal action against those who masterminded this conflict.``

About 100 parents also gathered at the school for a morning meeting to discuss the strife and made clear that they would withdraw their children from the school unless the new principal`s appointment is rescinded. They denounced the board for appointing Chang, who was found guilty of falsifying school records when he previously served as principal.

Originally scheduled for 8 a.m., the welcoming ceremony for new students had to be delayed by about one and a half hours. School officials eventually managed to hold the ceremony and distribute new textbooks but they were unable to pass out class schedules.

On Thursday, Chang convened an emergency meeting of teachers and replaced 17 school executives who had been appointed by his predecessor on Feb. 17.