Image used for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: Sharjah Misdemeanors Court on Sunday charged Australian International School, represented by its owner, identified as A.M., with negligence in connection with the death of a four-year-old Emirati boy who drowned during a swimming class on November 14, 2018.

The school was accused of neglecting and failing to take necessary protective measures in its swimming pool area.

The school owner denied the charges and the case was postponed to March 10 to hear the testimony of two witnesses, both of whom are teachers.

In an earlier hearing, the court had accused six other staff members, who are of different nationalities, of negligence resulting in the death of the kindergarten boy. All of them had denied the charge.

Awatif Mohammad from Al Rowad Advocates, representing the Australian class teacher, said 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 Qassimi 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.