Sharjah: Australian International School and two of its staff were convicted of negligence on Tuesday over the death of a four-year-old Emirati boy who drowned during a swimming lesson on November 14, 2018.
The Sharjah Misdemeanours Court ordered a sports teacher, his assistant and the school’s administration to pay a total of Dh200,000 in blood money to the boy’s parents.
The school must pay Dh140,000 and each of the two staff members should Dh30,000 each. The teacher, his assistant and the school were also ordered to pay a fine of Dh5,000 each.
Four other staff members were cleared of the charges in the verdict which was issued by Judge Hussain Al Assofi on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a civil lawsuit, lodged by boy’s parents, was also transferred to the concerned court.
The father of the boy said he will appeal the verdict and seek a tougher punishment against those who involved in the death of his son.
The school was accused of neglect and failing to take necessary protective measures in and around its swimming pool.
In an earlier hearing, the court had accused six other staff members of negligence resulting in the death of the boy, all of whom had denied the charge.
Awatif Mohammad from Al Rowad Advocates, representing one of the teachers, said the school had received several complaints from parents against school, that it lacked safety measures in the swimming pool area, were repeated several times and the school was aware about it, but did not do anything.
Moreover, the medical equipment was not working. She demanded the acquittal of her client and requested the judge to hear testimony of other schoolteachers over the parents’ complaints.
According to details mentioned during the court hearing, the child had gone missing at around 10am from the changing room after the swimming lesson.
The lawyer said her client, being the class teacher, was responsible for supervising children after the swimming class had ended.
“Which she did, and she explicitly told her assistant to keep an eye on this specific student because he was active and moves around often. She then went to the girls’ changing room to check on the girl pupils,” said Awatif.
The father of the child held the school fully responsible because the school had been informed his child was very active and had not mastered swimming. He included the note in his file, but they neglected the safety procedures which caused his drowning and death, according to case details.
The father said he had received a call at 10.30am on November 14, 2018 from the school. A spokesman had said in English that his son was sick, without elaborating.
According to police and prosecutors’ investigation record, the school headmaster said that he was in a morning meeting when he was informed that a student had drowned in the swimming pool.
The Emirati child, identified as K.A.A., was taken to Al Qasimi hospital, where the medical staff attempted to resuscitate him but the boy died.
The school expressed deep regret for the incident and the loss of one of its students.