István Schink had been the director of the II. Rákóczi Ferenc Secondary School in Munkács (Mukachevo), Ukraine for 17 years when, suddenly, he was terminated from his position in January 2023. He was actually just one of the many ethnic Hungarian people let go from public leadership positions in Munkács and its area recently; and public displays of Hungarian national imagery, such as the national flag and the mythical turul bird have also been removed.
The II. Rákóczi Ferenc Secondary School got a new, Ukrainian principal as well, who cracked down on expressions of Hungarian identity, such as the singing of the Hungarian National Anthem at school events.
Schink was well-respected among his colleagues and peers in the community, so his firing came as a shock to many. In his letter of termination, there was no reason given for the dismissal. The Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ) has spoken up in support of Schink.
The educator took his case to court, alleging wrongful termination.
By April, the Munkács Regional Court ruled that his termination was in fact unlawful, and ordered the City Council to reinstate him. However, that state of affairs only lasted for three weeks, as Schink was fired again in May—a decision he challenged in court again.
The next development in his saga came in September, when the appellate court also ruled in the Hungarian head teacher’s favour in the case of his January termination. However, this time, it did not mean that he could go back to running his school again, as the legality of his second, May firing was still being adjudicated.
In December, the ruling regarding his second termination also came down from the District Court, which also sided with Schink,
who now won three out of three of his legal cases against the City Council who were insistently trying to get rid of him. He can at last return to the school to fill the principal’s position again—hopefully—for good, a fact that is very much welcomed by the teaching staff, as expressed on the school’s social media page.