Parents of 32 kids seek help as pre-school due to close

Parents of more than 30 children have been looking for alternative spots and seeking refunds with the impending closure of a third pre-school run by a businesswoman recently jailed for contempt of court.

The Frobel pre-school in Kallang is expected to cease operations at the end of this month, said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in response to media queries. This will affect 32 children.

ECDA said it has been working closely with the pre-school and affected parents to find alternative places nearby, but a small number has yet to land a suitable spot.

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling said a parent with two children affected by the Kallang closure approached her for help and she got in touch with ECDA to help them find places. "I've been in touch with a volunteer lawyer who is willing to assist these parents, should they need legal help," she added.

Song Fanrong, 45, who ran the Kallang pre-school and seven other centres, was jailed on Sept 11 for breaching the Mareva injunction.

She sold off a stake of her kindergarten business despite a court order to freeze her assets, pending the outcome of another lawsuit.

The impending closure in Kallang follows closures of two other pre-schools, in Sembawang and Namly Place, in late August. There are five remaining pre-schools under Friedrich Frobel Holding.

Some parents said they made police reports regarding deposits that the pre-schools have allegedly failed to return as well.

A mother who wanted to be known only as Ms Teo, 26, said she and other parents were told by Song's husband, Mr Teo Kuei Yang, last Saturday that the Kallang pre-school would be closing at the end of the month.

"When we questioned him about our deposits, he could not give us an answer," said the clerical officer. Her two daughters attended the Kallang centre's childcare and she said she is owed more than $2,000 for a month's deposit for both girls.

Another parent, whose five-year- old daughter attended the Sembawang pre-school, said she was given about two weeks' notice.

"Song and her husband met us at the pre-school on Aug 19. They said they had no more money to pay the rental," said the 37-year-old teacher who wanted to be known as Ms Tan.

She said she is owed $1,100 in deposit and $1,200 in subsidies.

 

Mr Teo said he was at the meetings with the parents as his wife needed help translating information into English. Asked about the deposits, he said: "I can't comment because I am not with the company's management or a shareholder."

ECDA said it will monitor the remaining pre-schools and has reminded the operator of its obligation to give six months' formal notice before any closure.

"Regulatory action has already been initiated by ECDA against the operator for breaching this requirement when it closed two of its pre-schools on Aug 31," said a spokesman, adding that it has instructed the operator not to enrol new students till it has clarified its plans and provided an update on the status of its ongoing legal suit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Parents of 32 kids seek help as pre-school due to close'. Print Edition | Subscribe