Kisumu Girls' fails to open over Sh9m fine on parents for damages

Kisumu Girls High school principal Margret Michumo at the school on July 10, 2018. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]
The re-opening of Kisumu Girls High School was pushed to next week because of a stalemate over a Sh9 million fine.

The school was closed a week ago after students went on the rampage. They were expected to report back to school yesterday.

Each of the over 1,800 students was required to pay a fine of Sh5,000 fine for the damage caused during the July 1 protests.

Parents in the other schools affected are also likely to face fines as the cost of the repair of the damages is passed to them.

In Nyanza

More than 10 secondary schools have been closed in Nyanza, with damages said to run to millions of shillings.

When the parents of Kisumu Girls arrived with their children, they found a notice, informing at the gate informing them to bring the girls to school on Monday next week.

“This is to inform Form One parents to bring back their daughters to school on Monday July 16, 2018," read the notice pinned at the gate. No reason was given for the postponement of the re-opening date.

Some parents, however, told The Standard the postponement could have been occasioned by their protest over Sh9 million fine for the damage caused by the students during the rampage.

According to the parents, they were finalising on a legal action against the school management over what they termed an ‘attempt to fleece parents’.

A parent who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said they had drawn up a case and were planning to file it before the issue leaked to the school management.

“We discussed the matter in our WhatsApp groups and agreed to take the legal way after the institution's management declined to sit down with us to decide on the fine,” said a parent.

According to the parent, the Sh5,000 fine was too high considering that only a few window panes and the windscreen of the principal’s car were reported to have been damaged.

The parents questioned the rational of arriving at the fine, claiming that the damage could not cost the school in excess of Sh500,000.

“We accept that the children were wrong to cause the damage, but this habit of running to impose fines before the underlying issues raised are addressed point to a scheme by the school management to unduly make money from us instead of focusing on getting the school in order,” said another parent.

Some parents also want the institution to release the report on the incident and surcharge only the students implicated.

“Some teachers alleged that students feared sitting mock examinations and that is why they went on strike. My daughter is in Form One and will not be facing any mock examinations for the next three years, so why am I being surcharged? Why the collective judgement? These are the issues we need to discuss,” said another parent.

The stalemate

School Principal Margret Michumo declined to comment on the matter, saying she could not address it with the media.

“We are not opening today. That’s all,” she told journalists in her office.

Gerald Onyango, a member of the school’s board of management, however, defended the fine, saying the evaluation of the damage was done by government agencies.

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