Othaya Boys principal jailed for declining to readmit suspended students

A military helicopter lands at Othaya Boys High School in Nyeri county on April 27, 2022.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

A school principal in Nyeri found guilty of contempt of court will be jailed for six months for contravening an order to re-admit 20 students.

In the ruling issued by High Court Judge Justice Florence Muchemi, Othaya Boys High School Principal Edward Muhuni was found to have disobeyed a March 23 order that required him to re-admit the candidates, who were suspended for assault.

Justice Muchemi said the students, through their lawyer Muhoho Gichimu, had provided enough proof that the principal and the school’s Board of Management (BOM) had been served with the order.

She said that they provided stamped copies that acknowledged that the order was received by school administrators and administrators had replied to it.

“Service of the orders on the respondent has not been denied in this application as the school’s BOM has replied trying to justify its failure to obey the said order,” she said.

She faulted the school administration for failing to challenge the order in court.

“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 shutting the students from its premises,” said the judge.

Court documents showed that the students were suspended in October last year after attacking three of their peers, leaving one seriously injured.

In an affidavit, Mr Muhuni said he rescued the trio from the school’s ablution block where the incident happened and reported the matter to the 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 school administration to re-admit them pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

Following Justice Muchemi’s 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.

But during the meeting, Mr Muhoho, the students’ lawyer, told the court that the school management had reneged on the contents of the invite.

“The students were instead informed that they would be day schoolers and be accommodated at a nearby local school where an external cook and an armed officer contracted by the school would take care of them,” Mr Muhoho said.

The Sh3,500 was meant to pay for the external cook’s services.

Mr Muhoho claimed that school managers were not cordial during the BOM meeting as they condemned the students for suing the school.

In court documents, Mr Muhoho also said that the administrators only called for a meeting following the court order after the county director of education intervened.

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