Parents to pay for school mess

The parents of a group of youths that caused 1 million euros’ worth of damage to a school complex in Pangrati, eastern Athens, will be sued to recoup the cost of the vandalism, Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said yesterday. «Those responsible, or their parents, will be asked to pay for the damage – this is money belonging to the Greek people and no one has the right to deprive them of it,» Stylianidis said, heralding the unprecedented move. A total of 14 legal suits have been lodged against six students and another eight suspected troublemakers implicated in the vandalism. Some of the suits were lodged by teachers and parents of students attending one of the schools in the complex. «We took legal action against non-students who we remembered from last year’s sit-ins,» Maria Eleni, the mother of a local student, told Kathimerini. But the vice president of the confederation of the parents’ unions, Thomas Tsoupos, described the ministry’s bid to seek cash from parents as «unacceptable,» claiming that students were not involved in the vandalism. But Stylianidis, who briefed President Karolos Papoulias on the developments yesterday, was adamant that those who caused the damage, and their parents or guardians, would be obliged to pay. «Those found to be responsible will be punished for this destruction,» he said. Some parents claim that they had called the police to enter the premises of the school complex while it had been under occupation but that officers had been barred from entering the site. Responding to these allegations, Stylianidis remarked, «Such orders cannot be given by the Education Ministry as they are not within its area of competence.» Instead, he said, the ministry encouraged parents and teachers to take legal action against perpetrators whose involvement they had witnessed. Police suspect a group of some 10 vandals took advantage of a student lockout at the complex to run riot last week. One suspect, who was wanted by authorities for other offenses, has been arrested.