Student loses suspension case against school

Court in Kampala has declined to halt the indefinite suspension meted against a Senior Six student of St Peter’s Senior Secondary School, Naalya, who had been accused of distributing cookies with cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, to fellow learners.

While rejecting the application for a temporary relief raised by Ms Tracy Bamanya Natukunda, presiding judge Musa Ssekaana yesterday held that the learner’s presence is a threat to other students.

“The school should be given a benefit of doubt in exercise of its disciplinary powers against the student until the court finds otherwise. The rights of the applicant (student) against the entire school community should be a factor to consider and the likely danger of the applicant returning to the school and the entire school atmosphere in such circumstances,” ruled Justice Ssekaana yesterday.

Adding: “In the result for the reasons stated herein above, this application is hereby dismissed and the costs shall abide the outcome of the main cause. It is so ordered.”
According to court documents, Ms Natukunda was admitted on February 3, 2020, to study Divinity, Entrepreneurship and Literature in Senior Five.
The school alleges that the learner was indisciplined and disobedient throughout her studies.
“… In the first term of the 2022 academic year, the applicant was found in possession of cannabis (commonly referred to marijuana) and a matchbox. The applicant (student) was questioned by the school teachers on these illicit items and then asked to record a statement,” the court documents read in part.

“The other students, who were subsequently questioned, revealed that the applicant (Ms Natukunda) had been distributing cannabis cookies and cannabis for smoking to students. Due to the gravity of these findings and the fact that possession of cannabis is illegal under the laws of Uganda, the school decided to conduct a thorough investigation on these findings,” the court documents stated further.
The school further contends that through its disciplinary committee, Ms Natukunda’s parents were summoned to forge a way forward.
“The applicant (student) instead chose to abuse the discretion that had been exercised by the disciplinary committee by attacking students who had testified against her to the teachers and the disciplinary committee and continued to harass other students,” the school says.

Adding: “…Since the applicant (student) had been allowed to stay in school after her parents pleaded to the mercy of the disciplinary committee, her parents were invited once more for a meeting with the disciplinary committee to discuss the continuing disregard for school rules. The applicant and her parents left the school management with no other option but to indefinitely suspend the applicant because she posed a danger to the lives and health of other students.”
The student claimed that she was not accorded any hearing before the school resorted to indefinitely suspend her.