Parent sues school, ministry over fee arrears, asks court for refund

Education PS Belio Kipsang when he appeared before the National Assembly's Education Committee on February 26, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A decision by some schools to disallow learners with fee arrears back to school after the half term has now found its way to court.

A newsletter by St Georges Girls Secondary School, Nairobi, led to the filing of the suit by a parent now seeking the intervention of the High Court.

In the suit, the parent has named the Basic Education Principal Secretary, the school’s chief principal, board of management, Attorney General and the Teachers Service Commission as respondents.

The school in a circular dated February 27, directed parents to clear fees on or before March 4.  The newsletter indicated that no issues of fees will be discussed on reporting date to ease congestion.

The learners reported back on March 5. One of the parents has since moved to court to challenge the decision.

The parent, through lawyer Felix Mokaya, in a suit filed at the High Court in Nairobi, claims the school has the practice of not admitting students with fee balances that include an alleged illegal remedial and development levies whenever the students break or close.

“St Georges Girls Secondary School is a public school whose development is catered for by the Ministry of Education when presenting their budget proposal. The petitioner is concerned why parents who pay taxes that run the same school have to pay in addition to development,” read the suit.

He noted that his client’s child was not allowed back to school on January 10, 2024. He noted that the daughter was denied admission in January due to remedial balance despite having paid Sh40,000 as school fees.

The parent claims the suit represents the interest not only of parents of St Georges but all parents across the country. He said his daughter was admitted at the school in January 2023.

He reveals that in February 2023 during orientation, parents were asked to pay Sh25,000 for completion of a dormitory. He said no input was sought from parents.

He noted that the issue of remedial classes also arose and parents were encouraged to pay for it though it was not compulsory. Parents he said were encouraged to pay Sh3,000 per term.

A WhatsApp group, he said, was created and a representative elected. Immediately the group was created, parents were asked to pay the Sh3,000.

“Some parents in the said WhatsApp group demanded to know from the class representative and the class teacher if the said remedial classes had become compulsory. The response from the class teacher he said was ‘just pay and if you have any issues see the accountant’,’ he stated.

He noted thereafter the demand for remedial fees increased.

The parent on January 11, 2024, in a letter to the PS Ministry of Education copied to the school management sought to know whether the charges on remedial classes were legal.

The school chief principal in response requested the issue be handled in-house. The principal requested the parent to write to the PS to put on hold any precipitated action against the school in view of resolving the issue.

“Our children have been subjected to embarrassment together with their parents who are forced to go back home on opening dates due to those unlawful levies balance. I was forced to pay Sh7,220 for remedial and misplaced textbooks. The school denied admission to my daughter until I settled the said amount,” read the suit in part. He noted that the school is yet to issue receipts for the payment despite demanding for them twice. He said he was informed that the system is down and receipts couldn’t be processed.

The parent wants the court to issue a declaration that the remedial levy is illegal and the already paid sum be refunded. He said the court should also declare illegal the development levy imposed on parents.

The board that authorised the levies, he said, should also be disbanded and surcharged.

Justice Lawrence Mugambi directed that the case be mentioned on April 15 having allowed parties to file responses within 14 days.