Court orders ACE Foundation’s eviction from Tzu Chi building

PHILIPSBURG--The Court of First Instance on Friday ordered the eviction of All Children’s Education (ACE) Foundation from a building on Daisy Road in which it operates a primary school.
 
Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation turned to the Court in an injunction on Tuesday because of a US $19,352 backlog in rent payments.
 
  Tzu Chi Foundation wanted ACE to vacate the school building at the start of the new school year, but because there is no other building readily available, the Court allowed ACE until October 3 to vacate the building in Dutch Cul de Sac.
  ACE Director Claire Elshot did not contest the arrears in rent payments during the hearing of the injunction. She said, however, that in case the Court would order the Foundation’s immediate eviction 40 school children would end up “under a tree, or on the street.”
 
  The Court stated Friday it would take this “substantial social interest” into consideration. It was also taken into account that with this verdict in hand Tzu Chi could lay a claim to obtain the rent arrears. ACE informed the Court on Tuesday that it was able to pay $5,000 immediately.
 
  ACE was ordered to vacate the building, and all persons and goods therein, on October 3 at the latest, and to hand over all keys to the owner. The Foundation also has to pay back the accumulation in rent payment, as well as the rent for September until the school building has been fully evacuated.
 
  The school opened in September 2013, and was Tzu Chi’s first major education mission in St. Maarten. The relief organisation took a mortgage to purchase the building and claimed it was running into financial difficulties as ACE has failed to pay the rent, which was set at $1,000 per month.
 
  Three years later, the backlog in payment had increased to approximately $35,000, attorney-at-law Hedy Kockx explained on behalf of Tzu Chi during the injunction. The Buddhist relief organisation remitted an amount of $17,000 in the form of a donation, but Tzu Chi’s financial situation does not allow for any more financial support, their lawyer explained.
 
  Tzu Chi allowed ACE to finish the 2015/2016 school year, but said it would halt any financial support in the new school year.
 
  The Buddhist relief organisation claimed payment of the outstanding balance. In the case of non-compliance, Tzu Chi called upon the Court to order ACE’s eviction from the school building.
 
  This is not the first time ACE has run in to difficulties with its rental payments and other financial obligations. Tzu Chi had made its building available to ACE after the educational organisation had been on the verge of closing its doors at a nearby location on L.B. Scott Road.
 
  The two organisations have been cooperating for quite some time. Tzu Chi’s support of ACE began in 2006, with donations of rice and school supplies for students. This assistance continued when Tzu Chi collaborated with cultural foundations in the community and held a fundraiser to help ACE cover its rent.
 
  Tzu Chi purchased the property on Daisy Road in March 2013, to help the school with a stable and safer location with lower rental payments so that it could focus on its educational tasks. ACE, which relies heavily on volunteers and donations, has been operating a primary school for 13 years.
 
The Daily Herald

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