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Helsinki dismisses teacher for using physical force

The Helsinki Department of Education has dismissed a teacher at the Alppila middle school over an incident in which the teacher forcibly removed a pupil from the school's cafeteria who was causing a disturbance. The incident has aroused a debate about the right of teachers to use physical force.

Opiskelijat tekevät muistiinpanoja.
Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

The teacher, who has been employed at the school on an hourly contract since last October, forced the pupil out of the cafeteria by pushing him.

According to the Department of Education, the action was inappropriate and indefensible. In a release on the issue, the Department said that the teacher endangered the pupil's right to a safe learning environment.

"Not a scratch"

The teacher, Antti Korhonen, argues that he was acting in accordance with the letter of the law on basic education when he removed the pupil from the cafeteria.

He told Yle that he objects to the Board of Education calling his action inappropriate.

"It is a complete lie. The pupil was not injured, not a scratch," said Korhonen.

According to Korhonen, the pupil's misbehaviour could have incited the other pupils. He added that he has acted in a similar manner by removing a pupil from class who was causing a disturbance.

The incident immediately aroused a debate about the right of teachers to use physical force.

The teachers' trade union OAJ has demanded legislation aimed at promoting a peaceful learning environment in the schools. New legislation was scheduled to come into force next autumn, but is likely to be delayed early 2014.

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