For several angry days last December, one of China’s top state elementary schools, Fangcaodi International School, nearly became a statistic in the rising number of “mass incidents” here. That term includes petitions, demonstrations and strikes, both peaceful and violent, and there were about 280,000 in 2010, according to Sun Liping, a Tsinghua University sociologist. That was up from 87,000 in 2005, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
At a stormy meeting on Dec. 3, some parents threatened to demonstrate at the school gates unless the principal agreed to ban cars from driving throughout the campus, after a first grader was nearly killed in an accident involving a school car on the playground the month before. On Nov. 15, a school driver had driven over what he apparently believed was just a pile of children’s coats. But 6-year-old Julien Glauser, a half-Chinese, half-Swiss student, was lying on the coats. Dragged along the ground for more than 8 meters, or nearly 28 feet, underneath the black Toyota Camry, Julien suffered severe spine, lung and head injuries. He is expected to make a good recovery — a miracle, doctors in Switzerland later told the parents, Olivier Glauser and his wife, Hong Li.
“They told us they normally only see such injuries in autopsies,” Mr. Glauser said. Six months later, Mr. Glauser and Ms. Li are accusing the school of a cover-up, lack of accountability, failing to voluntarily improve safety and refusing compensation for medical expenses. “They said, ‘Sue us,”’ Mr. Glauser said. Contacted this week, however, the school said it would indeed compensate the victim’s family. A spokesman for the school, who gave his surname as Zhang, declined to provide details, saying internal investigations were continuing.