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Abu Dhabi court upholds closure of school over student’s death

Abu Dhabi court upholds closure of school over student’s death

Al Worood Academy Private School shut down after a three-year-old child suffocated to death on a school bus

The Abu Dhabi school where a three-year girl died after being locked in a bus will remain permanently closed, the Court of Cassation has ruled.

Al Worood Academy Private School was first ordered to close down at the end of its 2014-2015 academic year by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) after Nizaha Aalaa died after being locked inside a school bus from 7am until noon.

Adec also set up a committee to investigate the incident and placed the school under the administrative and financial supervision of the council until its closure.

The school first filed a lawsuit before the Abu Dhabi Administrative Court to demand the cancellation of Adec’s decision, describing it as contrary to the provisions of private schools regulations and calling the death incident an individual case.

After the Court of First Instance rejected the school’s case, it lodged an appeal before the Court of Appeal, which overturned the initial judgment of closure and consequent effects.

Adec contested the Appeal Court’s ruling before the Court of Cassation. The authority said the school had employed the services of a transportation company that was not licensed to transport school students and that the bus driver was also unauthorised and not trained. The vehicle had also not been equipped with CCTV cameras, it added.

On Saturday, the Cassation Court upheld the initial closure of the school and ruled that the incident was “not isolated” but indicated a lack of priority for health and safety standards by the school which endangered the lives of students.

Nizaha Aalaa fell asleep on the bus while on the way to school on October 7, 2014. She reportedly ate her lunch and drank her bottle of water, after which she allegedly tried to bang on the door to ask for help. By the time she was found at noon, she was reportedly dead for at least two hours.

The Court of Appeals previously sentenced the driver to a six-month jail term and the bus attendant to prison for a year.

The school was also ordered by the Court of Appeals to pay Dhs100,000 in blood money to the child’s family, and was also given a Dhs50,000 fine.

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