Student Sues Achimota School

A second-year student of Achimota School has dragged the school authorities to an Accra High Court after the headmistress reportedly sent her home from school during her elective mathematics examination for growing her hair. This was after the student, a minor, could not cut her hair on time after being told to do so due to the fact that she needed an exeat to leave the school. The student, who is suing through next friend, Frieda Yayra Amable, has filed an application for judicial review and certiorari to quash the decision of the headmistress who made her sign a bond of good behavior before she was sent home. It was based on this that the student sued, saying that she could not be punished twice for the same offence. In a writ filed on February 7, 2012 by her counsel, Ellis Quarshigah of Dzededi Chambers, the student claimed her academic work had been adversely affected by the act of the headmistress, especially as she was a promising science student who had just a year to finish school. An affidavit in support of the motion sworn to by counsel for the applicant stated that somewhere in December 2011, the student was authorized to cut her hair since it was “bushy.” It said the minor was unable to do so immediately since she needed an exeat to comply with the directive. She was asked to go home while she was in the middle of her elective mathematics exams. According to the affidavit, the headmistress, the defendant, consequently invited the mother of the girl and informed her that her daughter had disobeyed them by growing bushy hair, refusing to cut it and responding rudely to a question of choosing between school and her hair by words like “I can’t choose.” Furthermore, it stated that she was made to sign a bond of good behaviour and when she enquired further about the bond, she was only told to sign it and she unwillingly complied. In addition, she said two weeks later, on January 16, 2011, the girl was sent home for the same offence and believed that she could not be punished twice for the same offence since she had already signed a bond of good behavior. Explaining further, plaintiff said that assuming without admitting that she had committed a new offence, the penal measures taken were a wanton breach of the rules of natural justice since the student was not given any opportunity to be heard. It stated that the young lady had been hospitalized for four days due to incessant crying. She had been demanding that she be allowed to go back to school as her friends were studying. The student and her mother believed that until the court intervened, the academic career of the girl would be totally truncated. She therefore wants an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the headmistress as null and void and of no legal effect. The minor also wants the court to issue an order compelling the headmistress of the school to substantially compensate her for the wrongful suspension and subjecting her to mental torture.