Women in legal battle over school ownership

ABU DHABI — An ownership dispute has landed two women, partners in a private nursery school, in a legal tussle. While one accused the other of having unlawfully seized the property with the help of a local sponsor, the other alleged that her partner had misappropriated school funds.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Thu 5 May 2005, 10:16 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:23 PM

Margaret Almeida, Director of Noah's Arc Nursery, who also claims to have 50 per cent share in the investment for the school, has filed a legal case against her partner Saundariya.

"I built up the school from scratch in the past four years, while the other person remained a sleeping partner all along. Now all of a sudden, she decided to take over, and she did so without even giving me a decent exit," Margaret told Khaleej Times.

"Worse still, she and the sponsor are accusing me of financial misappropriation which they have not yet been able to prove," Margaret added.

When contacted, Saundariya refused to comment, but the sponsor, however, said they decided to drop Margaret because of financial misdealings. "She has also started a new school now. So why can't she give this school to Saundariya?" he asked.

Elaborating on the chain of events that led to her exit, Margaret explained that one day, the sponsor sent a notice to both the partners asking them to keep away from the school for two weeks for auditing purposes.

"After 10 days, I got another notice stating that my service was terminated with immediate effect since they had discovered financial misappropriation, and that I should submit my labour card and passport for cancellation. They even prevented me from collecting my personnel belongings by changing the locks," she complained.

"They have neither shown me any figures nor have they asked me for an explanation on whatever misappropriation they found out," added Margaret. According to her, she was being targeted only for refusing to take Saundariya as a partner in her new school which she started recently.

"I am more worried about my students and their parents who are confused by the goings-on. They have been asking for me and the sponsor has sent a circular stating that there was a change in management," Margaret said, adding that she will fight for her lawful financial rights legally.

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