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School apologizes to dead teacher's family after cancer dismissal

Updated: 08 25 , 2016 14:58
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LANZHOU, Aug. 24 -- A school in northwest China's Gansu Province made a public apology and offered compensation to the family of a teacher who was fired when she had cancer. The teacher died earlier this month.

The belated response came after the death of Liu Lingli, formerly a teacher at Bowen College, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, sparked public outcry toward the school's indifference.

Chen Ling, dean of the college, visited Liu's family Tuesday afternoon, signing an agreement for reconciliation and pledged to give the family 500,000 yuan (about 75,169 U.S. dollars) as compensation.

The money included compensation for medical treatment and the salary Liu should have earned after the college retracted its decision to sack the teacher.

"After teacher Liu became ill, the college made a rash decision to end her work contract without knowing the real situation. This was improper," the school said in an open letter on Monday.

"While we were in talks to solve the problem, Liu passed away, sadly," it said.

"Our decision harmed you as well as teacher Liu, and resulted in a bad effect on society. Please allow us to express our sincere apology."

Liu Shuqin, Lingli's mother, told Xinhua that they were going to visit the bridge where they threw their daughter's ashes into the Yellow River and tell her the apology had finally arrived.

Born in 1984, Liu Lingli became a teacher in Bowen College in 2012. She felt pain in her stomach in June 2014 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The college sacked Liu in January 2015, citing her absence as a violation of her contract. According to Chen Ling, Liu didn't present any medical document to explain her absence, but her mother said she had visited the school with a medical record from a hospital, to ask for sick leave on her daughter's behalf.

The family then sued the college. The People's Court of Yuzhong County in Gansu ruled in October 2015 that the decision to end the labor contract was null and void.

The college appealed, but in July a second trial gave the same verdict.

"After the ruling not a single leader from the school came to visit us. Lingli had been waiting but they never came," said Lingli's father, Liu Hong, who also has cancer.

Eight days after Liu Lingli's death, Bowen College finally revoked the dismissal decision.

"What we wanted was an apology. We needed Chen Ling to apologize, before we could sit down to talk," Liu Hong said.

The apology and compensation did not seem to satisfy indignant Internet users.

"I doubt the sincerity of the apology," said Weibo user liusensen. "She did so under tremendous media pressure."

"What is the use of apology when the woman has already died," said another user.

Li Huimin, a professor with the School of Journalism and Communication of Lanzhou University, believes that the case once again showed people's desire for solutions to social problems.

"Those involved in such cases should react positively, so as to reduce negative effects," he said.

The Xinmin Evening News ran an editorial calling for reflection on the case to avoid repetition of the tragedy.

"We need to improve our legislation on social security, speed up the building of a comprehensive public security system and encourage the efforts of NGOs," the editorial said.

"Apart from criticism and punishment, there are more things left for us to think about."

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