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June 07, 2022

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Sacked without warning – but can a parent protest work? Find out

Termination letters were given out as school prepares for a management change

Parents have complained to Sharjah's private education authority after the school their children attend sacked 13 staff members.

Twelve administrative staff and one teacher at Al Kamal American International School in Halwan were given termination letters last Thursday.

July 7 will be their last working day when the school closes for the summer break. Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) told The National that it is looking into the case and has already contacted the school.

Parents said they have approached Bin Kamil Group, owners of the school, and have voiced their concerns.

The staff members affected told The National that they were given the letters without a warning and no proper notice was served to them. Most have been with the school since it opened in 2017 for pupils from KG to grade 12.

"We regret to inform you of our decision to terminate your services in the school as of July 2. The school governor and the owner are changing the management and your last working day will be July 7. [It is] due to a change in the need and working conditions of the school," read the letter given to the employees.

Parent Fadia Al Shaalan, 45, from Jordan, said: "A change is needed if the current staff failed to perform.

"But those who have been sacked are the backbone of the school. Our children love their school because of them and we are happy with how the school is being run.

"Ask parents randomly about their children’s performance. They would tell you it's excellent, which is a result of the efforts of these people." She said she is a part of a group of at least 20 parents who have approached the education authority.

"My children complain about long school holiday breaks and want to go to school every day," she said.

"Have you seen a child waking up happy and excited every morning just because he is going to school? My son does."

Eman Abbas, 35, from Egypt, said school staff always listened to the parents' and pupils' concerns and addressed them.

Her daughters, in grades 6 and 8, have been with the school since it opened and her two younger daughters, in KG1 and grade 1, joined recently.

"It's been five years and the staff members have always been there to help in every possible way," she said.

"To sack more than a dozen like this is unjustified. If any didn't perform, they are entitled to a warning at least."

Wurood Al Araj, 32, from Jordan has three children at the school in grades 2 and 4.

"I'm very upset. The main reason I kept my children in the school is because of its administration staff," said Ms Wurood.

Ms Wurood said she was among the parents who were interviewed by representatives from SPEA during the assessment of the school's performance.

A staff member who received a termination letter said they were expecting the school to celebrate their efforts as they helped it to secure a "good" rating. "From three schools owned by the group, ours improved to a 'good' from 'weak' by authorities nearly three days before we were terminated," said the woman, without wishing to be named.

"The school has also seen an increase in the number of new pupils.

"We were all surprised and don’t know what’s really driven this decision."

Dr. Hasan Elhais, from law firm Al Rowaad Advocates, said the termination of employees could be legal as they are on limited-term contracts.

According to Article 43, the employee or the employer can terminate a limited employment contract for any legitimate reason but a written notification should be given and notice of at least one month.

"There are some cases in which terminations can be carried out based on proven market changes," Dr Elhais said.

"However, employees must be given a one-month notice period."

The National has contacted the school for comment.


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