Hanoi headmistress forced to step down for lying about schoolyard accident

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This caricature demonstrates Ta Thi Bich Ngoc denying responsibility for an accident resulting in her student’s broken leg. - Tuoi Tre

The headmistress and deputy head of an elementary school in Hanoi have both had to step down for their dishonesty in reporting an accident in the schoolyard that left one student with a broken leg.

They were both found to have been untruthful in their reporting of the accident, which happened in December, and deliberately covering up their link to the mishap while also obstructing a police investigation into it, an interdepartmental meeting chaired by Hanoi’s chairman Nguyen Duc Chung concluded on Monday.

Following the findings, the Disciplinary Council of Hanoi’s Cau Giay District where the school is located ordered Ta Thi Bich Ngoc, headmistress of Nam Trung Yen Elementary School, and Nguyen Thi Huong, vice headmistress, to leave their positions.

On December 1, Ngoc and Huong hailed a taxi from Viet Duc Hospital, where Ngoc had received a medical checkup, to get back to their school in Cau Giay District, according to police reports.

Upon arriving at the school’s back gate, Ngoc phoned a security guard asking to have it opened so that the taxi could enter, despite a regulation forbidding any cars inside the schoolyard.

Once inside, the taxi accidentally hit second-grader Tran Chi Kien, who was playing in the schoolyard, pushing the boy to the ground and leaving him with a broken leg.

While the taxi driver and vice headmistress got out to help the boy up and seek medical attention, Ngoc walked straight to her office as if unaware of what had happened.

Kien was later taken to hospital by his parents and his homeroom teacher, who was informed of the boy’s injury.

According to Kien’s father, the boy did not say that he had been hit by a car in the schoolyard until doctors at Viet Duc Hospital, where he had a screw inserted into his broken leg, insisted that his injury could not have been caused simply by falling over on his own.

The hospital’s doctors said that Kien had suffered from a femoral fracture and a scratch on his left hip, presumably because the boy had fallen backwards after being hit by a strong force.

However, when Kien’s parents came to his school to discuss the boy’s injury with the headmistress, she denied there having been any taxi in the schoolyard at the time of the accident, and insisted that the boy had hit a parked motorbike.

Ngoc later asked teachers and students of the school to fill out a questionnaire, demanding their eyewitness account that no cars had entered the schoolyard that day.

Despite the results showing that 100 percent of the teachers and students polled agreed with her side of the story, Ngoc was later denounced by a group of 18 school teachers who said the results had been fabricated and were false.

Ngoc and Huong were also found by police officers to have purposefully avoided providing information regarding the identity of the taxi driver in spite of having his business card.

The taxi driver later turned himself in to police after reading news of the accident in the papers, according to Hanoi officers.

-Tuoi Tre News