Court rules on college closure

Students of Vatuvonu Adventist College during a school assembly. Picture: FT FILE/LUKE RAWALAI

ONLY the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts has the lawful authority under the Education Act 1966 to order the closure of the Vatuvonu Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) College, High Court judge Justice Brito-Mutunayagam has ruled.

In April this year, the school and its registered trustees of the SDA were restrained from interfering with the Education Ministry’s right to appoint a suitable head of school or teachers or staff members and any acting positions relating to the open merit-based recruitment and selection process.

This is after an order was issued by acting Chief Justice Kamal Kumar, restraining the college and its trustees from effecting any closure of the college, or without the sanction of the Education Ministry permanent secretary after they declared their intention to close Vatuvonu SDA College.

Justice Mutunayagam ordered that trustees for the SDA Church had no lawful authority or right to effect the closure of the Vatuvonu SDA College at any time, without the sanction of the permanent secretary for the Education Ministry.

He also declined to grant an order for the trustees to hand over the management and control of the Vatuvonu SDA College to the ministry, until the outcome of the investigations conducted by the ministry into complaints of alleged abuse of funds by the school and trustees and any prosecution were completed.

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