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Teacher faces jail for contempt, failure to readmit 20 students

Judge says school administration should have challenged order in court. [iStockphoto]

A school administrator in Nyeri risks a six-month jail term for contempt after contravening a court order to readmit 20 students who had been expelled from the institution.

In her ruling yesterday, Justice Florence Muchemi found Othaya Boys High School principal Edward Muhuni guilty of disobeying court orders issued on March 23.

She said the applicants had provided stamped copies acknowledging that the order was received by school administrators who responded.

“The students had provided enough proof that the principal and the school’s Board of Management (BOM) had been served with the order,” Muchemi said. Justice Muchemi faulted the school administration for failing to challenge the order in court. Through lawyer Muhoho Gichimu, the student submitted that they were suspended in October last year after attacking three of colleagues, injuring one.

“Service of the orders has not been denied as the school’s BOM has replied trying to justify its failure to obey the order,” Justice Muchemi said. “Assuming that the school had a problem with obeying the order, it would have instructed its counsel to challenge it in court but nothing of that sort was done and it instead remained adamant.”

In his response, the principal said he rescued the three from the school’s ablution block where the incident happened and reported the matter to a police station. After the students were charged in court, the school, through a BOM meeting, decided to suspend them as they were suspected of bullying others. But the students rushed to the High Court and sought orders to compel the administration to re-admit them pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

Following the court orders, the students and their parents were invited to a meeting with school administrators to discuss how they would sit their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations, which were to begin in March. The school also required them to report ready for re-admission and asked them to pay Sh3,500 which was meant to cater for the external meal services.

But during the meeting, Gichimu submitted the school management had reneged on the contents of the invite.

“The students were instead informed that they would commute to the school daily and be accommodated at a nearby local place where an external cook and an armed officer contracted by the school would take care of them,” Gichimu explained.

According to court documents, the institution administrators only called for a meeting following the court order after the County Director of Education intervened.