A Tung Hai University assistant professor surnamed Yu (尤) recently sued four elementary-school students for allegedly bullying her daughter, causing all 27 of her daughter’s classmates to file for a transfer from their homeroom class.
The alleged bullying occurred in December last year when Yu’s daughter asked a classmate who had brought a heating pad to school if she could touch it and three other male classmates made fun of her.
Yu said the incident made her daughter uncomfortable. The school — an elementary school affiliated with the Tung Hai University Experimental High School — said the boys apologized to Yu’s daughter and the boys’ parents had also personally apologized to Yu.
In February, one of the boys who had made fun of Yu’s daughter was elected as the class’ role-model student. Yu raised her objections at a parent-teacher meeting, saying she felt that a role-model student should display strong moral character. After the meeting, the homeroom teacher forwarded a record of the meeting to all the parents of the students in the class, the school said, making Yu more angry.
In another incident this March, a female student said at the school that Yu had bribed a science teacher to ask Yu’s daughter more questions in class.
The female student wrote a letter of apology to Yu, but she was unsatisfied and filed a lawsuit in the Taichung District Court against the four fifth-grade students involved in both incidents this April.
The school’s division supervisor Lin Tsai-pi (林彩碧) said on Wednesday that after the school received a formal complaint from Yu, it called a meeting, which concluded the incident involving the heating pad had merely been a case of “inappropriate language” rather than bullying and that there was nothing wrong with electing the student as class role-model.
While the case is still pending in the court, parents of children in the same class as Yu’s daughter began to call the school to transfer their children to another homeroom, Lin said.
By June, there were only three students — including Yu’s daughter — in the same homeroom. During the summer, the other two also applied for a transfer, leaving Yu’s daughter alone in her class.
Lin said the school — observing the right to education of Yu’s daughter — had offered one-on-one teaching to Yu’s daughter, despite it costing the school an additional NT$600,000 (US$20,440) per year.
Despite the school’s sincere efforts to resolve the issue, Lin said, Yu has decided to transfer her daughter to another school.
Yu said on Wednesday that she was not “stirring a storm in a teacup” and that she had been willing to let things slide after the three boys had apologized in the first incident.
It was after one of the three was chosen to be the role-model student of the class that Yu really decided to take a stand and express her opposition to the decision and against the alleged bullying.
“I didn’t expect I would instantly become a target for standing up for my daughter and that the bullying would get worse,” Yu said. “After appealing to the school, the city government’s bureau of education and the Ministry of Education to no avail, I had no choice but to resort to legal action.”
Yu added that her daughter had been similarly bullied before and she had chosen not to make a big deal out of it. She insisted that she was not over-protective of her daughter and that she filed the lawsuit to raise awareness about bullying.