By Na Jeong-ju
Gwangju City will officially shut down the so-called “Dogani” school for the disabled today, roughly two months after a film based on events there sparked public furor over teachers’ sexual assaults against students at the regional school.
The education office in the southwestern city said Monday it has notified Wuseok, a social welfare foundation that owns and operates the Gwangju Inhwa School, of its plan to cancel its license on Nov. 14.
“Gwangju Inwha School will be formally closed on Nov. 1 for abuses of students and failing to fulfill its duties and responsibilities as a social welfare school,” a city spokesman said.
“The 57 disabled students who had been protected and educated by the school will be transferred to other schools in adjacent areas.”
The measures came after the film “The Crucible,” titled “Dogani” in Korean, based on the true story of sexual assaults by teachers at the school, caused public outrage.
Some teachers were found to have raped or sexually harassed hearing-impaired students between 2000 and 2005, but they were penalized lightly and some of them were still working at the school.
A few weeks ago, the city and the education office held a hearing to shed new light on what happened in the school. School managers and owners of the foundation were told to attend the hearing, but didn’t do so.
However, the actual shutdown of the school may take longer as lawyers for the Wuseok Foundation said it will take legal action to nullify the measures.
City officials said they are collecting all evidence to prove the school’s illegalities in preparation for a possible lawsuit against the decision to close the school.
“We will make all preparations not to lose the suit,” a city official said.
Police are currently investigating claims by former students and school officials that there have been numerous sexual abuse cases in the school for the past decades. Some even alleged that some students without families were killed at the school and were buried on a nearby mountain secretly.
In early October, police formed a special investigation team to look into any hidden irregularities at the school.
The education office in Gwangju has taken administrative measures against the teachers who were engaged in the scandal, suspending their jobs or canceling their teaching licenses.
Other teachers at the school, who had nothing to do with the case, will be re-hired, the office said.