Nearby tragedy affects Chinese schools

Nearby tragedy affects Chinese schools

Selene Rubino

With the parking lot death of a six-year-old boy, Cupertino Chinese School reevaluates its traffic policies


It is important to remember that there is more than one Chinese school in Cupertino.  There is  Cupertino Chinese School, held at MVHS on Friday nights. Then there is Elite Chinese School, on S. De Anza Blvd., in a squat office complex with blue window shades.

On Oct. 15, a six-year-old boy was run over at Elite Chinese School. The driver, who was paid to drop off the boy from school, accidentally ran him over after off-loading the car’s passengers into the parking lot. The boy later died of his injuries.

The tragedy attracted media scrutiny from the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as scrutiny from another angle: Cupertino Chinese School, which chillingly resembles the Elite School.

Like Elite, Cupertino Chinese School teaches grade-school-aged children the basics of Chinese language outside of the normal school day. Like Elite, the parking lot traffic during Cupertino Chinese School hours is often chaotic.

"When I heard of [the accident] my heart was shocked," Cupertino Chinese School president Joanne Jiang said in a letter to parents. "The first thing I thought of was the safety of our students."

The MVHS teacher parking lot is the site of Cupertino Chinese School's Friday night traffic. After a boy was run over in Elite Chinese school, traffic rules have become more stringent. Photo by Selene Rubino.

Typically, Cupertino Chinese School stations four parent volunteers to direct traffic in the teacher parking lot. Wearing orange reflective vests and holding camping lanterns, the volunteers wave cars into orderly lines on the driveway and parking lot. Since the accident, two more volunteers have been added as an extra precaution to oversee the student drop-off site.

"Although each time we have six or seven volunteers conducting traffic in the parking lot, there are situations we aren’t able to control," Jiang said. "The most serious situation is when parents let students out in the middle of the road… [parents] allow this to happen over and over again."

Jiang emphasizes caution in a letter she sent to all Cupertino Chinese School parents two weeks after the accident occured. So far, it seems parents have taken heed of the warning.

"I think parents are definitely more careful these days," parent John W. said.