The principal of an Indian school in Dubai that's in the eye of a storm returned to office on Wednesday. But it's still not clear whether the crisis which led to his ouster in the first place has been resolved.
Rajagiri International School (RIS) principal Father Varghese Puthusarry was forced to step down on November 13 amid a takeover tussle that went horribly wrong and led to police intervention last Saturday.
Even as his office remained locked, representatives of India's Ryan International Group of Institutions made an abortive bid to take charge. Backed by the Emirati owner of the school building in Al Warqa, they entered RIS premises and went about distributing their brochures to befuddled students.
On November 17, Ryan's Managing Director Grace Pinto issued a circular to parents welcoming them to the Ryan family and seeking their co-operation during the transition. The school's Parents Council was not amused.
Following a series of hastily convened meetings, the 30-member body embarked on a massive signature campaign to drum up support against the takeover. Dubai's education watchdog Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) was also petitioned.
"We got signatures of 850 parents in one day, it was no mean task considering the school has just a little over 1,000 students. Our children are not available for any business deals," said an executive council member of the Parents Council.
A senior school teacher likened the takeover to a hijacking.
"It was a hijack and I am saying this not because it happened on 9/11. They just barged into the school, saying ‘now your students are ours'. They had no KHDA approval." Another Parents Council representative said the new management may be good, but it's not their choice. "It's like I have ordered burger and the restaurant serves me pizza saying I should have it because it's got better nutritional value."
On Sunday, several students posed for XPRESS flashing the victory sign. "We want our principal back," they said in unison.
With the Principal back in the saddle, the Rajagiri management may have scored a minor victory, but the stalemate shows no sign of thawing. "There's still a lot of confusion. I don't know whether he's back for good or only for this academic year. Hopefully, we will have a clear picture in a couple of days," a teacher said.
Ryan group spokesperson declined to comment. "You will understand our policy of not commenting on market rumours. If there is any concrete news, we will be glad to share it with you immediately," their central office in India wrote back in response to an e-mail query.