Parents Demand 130 Mil. Baht in Damages Over Kindergarten Abuse

Lawyer Ronnarong Kaewpetch speaks to reporters after the arbitration hearing on Nov. 10, 2020.
Lawyer Ronnarong Kaewpetch speaks to reporters after the arbitration hearing on Nov. 10, 2020.

BANGKOK — Parents of young children beaten and mistreated by education workers at Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School demanded a compensation of 130 million baht from the management, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Ronnarong Kaewpetch, who represented the parents of the assaulted children, said each of his clients demanded 5 million baht in damages for serial negligence and failure to prevent the abuses. School representatives were not present at today’s arbitration hearing hosted by the public prosecutor office.

“I don’t think the figure is overstated,” Ronnarong said. “The doctors still cannot confirm how long the trauma will last on the assaulted children.”

He added, “It doesn’t matter whether the school is sending a representative to negotiate or not. The prosecutors will indict the civil case accordingly.”

The privately run bilingual school has been embroiled in a criminal investigation since September, when a security camera footage of babysitter Ornuma “Kru Jum” Plodprong shoving kindergarten pupils to the ground before the eyes of other students went viral.

The clip soon ignited a wave of outrage on social media, as well as parents of other schools under the Sarasas chain, where similar incidents were also discovered. Ornuma was sentenced by a court to 195 days in prison last week, though she is currently out on bail.

Prosecutor spokesman Prayut Petchkhun said the school notified the office earlier on Friday that it declined to attend the hearing and wished the court to order the compensation.

“Today’s meeting is a voluntary process to reduce the caseload in courts,” Prayut said. “We will invite the school to attend another round of hearings, but if the school doesn’t wish to attend, we will give them legal advice instead.”

Last month, the Private Education Commission, which oversees the private schools, said the directors of the Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School already paid compensation to some of the parents.

Ronnarong said his clients told him that the school refunded tuition fees for one semester, but it still owes parents the costs for physical and mental treatment, which the school promised to pay for.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, 19 cases were brought against education workers at Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School over the charges of assault and child abuse.

Prayut the prosecutor spokesman said seven of the works have been tried by the court so far.

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