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Parents want answers on son's death at school

By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-25 08:44
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Police have yet to release details about how boy fell from balcony

BEIJING - About 80 relatives of a boy who died mysteriously at his primary school in Heshan city of Guangdong province gathered in front of the school gate on Wednesday, demanding authorities to stop playing "hide-and-seek" and to tell the truth about what really happened.

The 8-year-old Tang Xiaohua, who was a second grader at Shaping county's No 1 primary school, was found dead by his mother when she went to pick him up after school at about 5:20 pm last Tuesday.

The boy had suffered a severe head injury and was announced dead at the scene when the ambulance arrived.

Authorities said Tang fell from the balcony of the second floor of the school building that houses his classroom.

According to the school authorities, no one witnessed the incident because the balcony where Tang fell is on the opposite side of the building where students and teachers exit, and opposite from the busy playground.

Thirteen other students were in the classroom when it happened and police have questioned all of them, according to the local public security authorities.

"The balcony has a 1.05-meter-high fence, which does not meet the safety standard. My son is about 1.3 meters tall, so I really don't understand how he could fall off from it," Tang Gongyin, the boy's father, told China Daily on Wednesday over the phone. "It couldn't be a simple accident."

Tang said even though the incident happened eight days ago, he is still waiting for answers from the authorities.

"We haven't got any explanation from the authority yet, which is the reason why we decided to protest at the school."

Organized by the boy's parents, about 80 relatives and friends of the family went to the school at about 6:30 am on Wednesday, demanding a reasonable explanation. A number of police officers were soon dispatched to prevent conflicts. The group was taken to a Shaping county government building about 8 am, Tang said.

"The police told us there that they have ruled out murder in the case, without giving details," the father said.

Tang said late on Wednesday that government officials said they want to work with him to give him compensation for his son's death. Tang said he is asking for 1.5 million yuan ($219,695).

He said he would use the money to build a school in honor of his son.

Tang said that Li Lanying, his son's teacher, had been berating the boy earlier in the day for misbehaving during class. As Li asked Tang Xiaohua to call his father to have a meeting in her office, so Tang suspects that his son committed suicide due to the pressure from the teacher.

Tang said he wants the teacher to be sacked for her negligence and for the undue pressure she put on his son.

However, Li denied the accusation when confronted by the parents and said she and the boy were having normal conversations, Tang said.

"Li has been sent home because she is traumatized due to the event," Li Dawen, the teaching director of the school, told China Daily without disclosing any further details. "We are waiting for the result of the police investigation."

Tang said the local authority tried to cover up the event to protect the school's reputation. Shaping county's No 1 primary school has more than 100 years of history and is highly regraded.

Police and authorities of Shaping county could not be reached for comments on Wednesday, but they had earlier said that they are making their best efforts to investigate the case.