Adec says Al Worood school to remain closed despite court order reversal

The school at the centre of a tragic incident involving the death of a school girl will still be shut down, education officials said, despite the reversal of a court order ordering its closure.

Al Worood Academy Private School. Nizaha Aalaa, 3, a KG-1 pupil, was found dead on a school bus. Silvia Razgova / The National
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ABU DHABI // The school at the centre of the death of a schoolgirl will still be shut down despite the reversal of a court order for its closure, education officials have said.

Al Worood Academy Private School was ordered to close by the end of August after Nizaha Aalaa, a three-year-old KG1 pupil, died from heat exhaustion after being locked on a school bus last October.

This week, an appeals court overturned the judicial verdict ordering the school to close, and reduced the sentences of two people convicted over the child’s death. A third individual was acquitted of one charge and a fourth was cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) released a statement on Tuesday saying the decision to close the school is final.

Adec reaffirmed its earlier decision to revoke the school’s operating licence by the end of the current school year, citing “a number of legislative acts, in addition to Article No 83 on violating the council rules and regulations, as part of the Abu Dhabi Private School Regulations”.

“Adec has decided to shut down the school due to negligence in adhering to safety and security measures particularly with regards to the schools transportation system,” Adec said.

Education officials said they will continue running the school’s financial and administrative affairs until Al Worood is shut down.

Despite the court’s decision, Amer Al Marzooqi, a Dubai lawyer, said Adec has authority on whether to allow the school to operate.

“They have the authority to cancel the permit,” he said. “They are the administrative authority that monitors the education system in Abu Dhabi, to make sure that everything goes by the books and the law.”

Adec said it has made arrangements for 1,900 students affected by the closure, offering school seats to all of those students both on and off the island of Abu Dhabi, and within proximity to their place of residence to ensure convenient transportation.

Siblings are also given priority to be enrolled in the same school, officials said.

After being asked to leave his position after the incident last November, Roderick Williams, the former principal of the school, said he expects to return to the job after this week’s court decision, in spite of Adec’s statement.

“Adec asked me to leave the school until the matter has run its course in the courts,” said Mr Williams, who joined the school in August 2012. “I now expect Adec to reinstate me and return to the school.”

“There’s a lot of loose ends to be tied up,” he said. “Professionally, I want to see my students and my parents.”

“The court says the school should remain open, but Adec says it should close. What if the school does not close?”

Nizaha’s death had shocked the community and led to the introduction of new regulations on school transport.