Court defers ruling on Kakamega school fine

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 00:47 |
A dormitory that went up in flames at Kakamega High School. PHOTO/COURTESY.

Hope for a quick return to class for students at Kakamega High School faded yesterday after the High Court deferred a decision to vacate an injunction barring the school principal from collecting Sh9,823 penalty in cost for damages accrued from a dormitory fire.

Kakamega High Court judge William Musyoka said he would rule on the application by Kakamega School Board of Management (BoM) that seeks to invalidate the court order suspending the collection of the penalty from students on December 10th.

 Two suits, one lodged by a parent Boaz Vida and another by Child Care Legal Aid (Chicala), a child rights group, have challenged the school BoM and Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha over the levy.

Justice Musyoka had earlier sent counsels for both parties to a boardroom to seek an amicable solution out of the school reopening stalemate that would see the students back in class but they brought back a negative report. 

 Parents had brought a motion on prerogative order of certiorari to quash the BoM resolution that penalised the students for the Sh21 6 million quantified as damages from the dormitory fire on November 6th while Chicala filed a petition against the school principal Gerald Orina and Prof Magoha, that seeks to nullify the levy arguing the minister did not approve as required.  

 The school through lawyer Henry Wasilwa yesterday sought to vacate the order stopping the collection of the penalty arguing it had impeded the functioning of the school. He claimed allowing over 1,000 students into the school would not guarantee hygiene, safety and security of learners.

Stay order

 Quoting extensively from the statutes, the Education Act and the civil procedure code but avoiding excerpts from the principal sworn affidavit, Wasilwa urged the court to exercise discretion in the best interest of learners saying the BoM is under the Act given a mandate to provide for the school infrastructure.

 He claimed allowing students back without a structure would culminate in a disaster. In response, Counsel Oscar Wachilonga, for the parents, argued on facts based on the principal’s sworn affidavit, noting the stay order did not stop the principal from reopening the school as planned.

 Citing a circular from the principal on reopening dates, Wachilonga told the court the BoM had in place designated shelter for learners only to change on being served with a court order. 

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