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Students in lurch after sudden school closing

Kampot provincial police on Wednesday arrested the manager of a private school that had allegedly defrauded more than 100 people out of their money after secretly closing on Tuesday.

Kheng Yat, Kampot provincial police chief, said officials arrested 39-year-old Loa Phinak, manager of the Set International School in Kampot town, after receiving complaints from students that the school had secretly closed.

The police chief also said  several local gas station owners had filed complaints alleging that the school had failed to pay its petrol bill, estimated at 26 million riel (US$6,500).

The owners claimed that the school used the gas stations to fill up their buses and minivans, which were used to transport students.

Deputy police chief In Chiva said that his force was searching for the owner of the school and other relevant parties.

The school had operated for about two years, according to Kampong Kandal commune police chief To Manarin, and served students between kindergarten and grade 12.

After visiting the closed school yesterday, the commune police chief reported “about 100 students [had] come to complain”.

Ang Sotheara, one of the disgruntled parents, said she had paid $250 per year for her student to attend the school.

“All parents are angry by this cheating and some have filed complaints,” she said.

While the Kampot town school closed on Tueday, a second location of the Set International School, in Svay Rieng town, closed on Wednesday, authorities reported.

“Many students, parents and a few staff members gathered outside the closed school,” Pen Samoeun, Svay Rieng commune police chief, said.

The school was in debt and operating without permission from local authorities, he added.

No representatives of Set International School could be reached for comment.

Last year, another private school – Elton International School in Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham – was embroiled in a similar controversy after it suddenly closed, making off with hundreds of dollars in student fees.

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