Friday, January 24, 2014

RTE row: Cops await legal view

RTE row: Cops await legal view

Sumita Sarkar, TNN Jan 13, 2014, 04.50AM IST

NASHIK: Officials of the Sarkarwada police station are awaiting a legal opinion on the written complaint filed by Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) assistant commissioner (education) Vasudha Kurnawal and zilla Parishad education officer (primary) R S Mogal on January 3 against the Silver Oak School for alleged violation of the Right to Education Act.
The education officers have also sought the registration of an FIR, but it has not yet been done.
In the meantime, the 10 students of Silver Oak School issued leaving certificates for not paying the fees since the past academic year are still outside the institute. The school had not permitted seven of its primary students to attend the classes from December 5 at its Sharanpur branch and three secondary students at its Chandsi branch allegedly due to non-payment of fees and three students for the past and current academic years.
The students' parents, who were suspended employees of the school, had been demanding that their wards be given concession in fees as they were with institute. From December 5, the students were not permitted inside the school and have been out since then.
The school authorities have said they had given several reminders to the students for paying fees.
On December 9, Kurnawal, who went to the school based on the complaints of the parents, was allegedly mistreated by the headmistress. She submitted a report to the deputy director of education about the alleged incident. A four-member inquiry committee had been constituted by the ZP primary education office and it submitted the report to the deputy director of education report, suggesting that the school be derecognised.
On January 3, the education officers and MNS MLA Nitin Bhosale went to the Sarkarwada police station and gave a written complaint against the school, seeking registration of an FIR.
"We have sent the complaint letter to the lawyer for legal opinion. We have not yet received any advice," said police inspector Suraj Sapkale.
Vijay Marsale, one of the parents of the students, said, "The children are out of school for a month and it is difficult to admit them to some other institutes during the middle of the academic year. This is violation of RTE Act. The officials have sought an FIR, but no one has spoken anything about the children".
Chairman of the school Jesus Lal had told TOI, "Ours is a non-aided minority school and the RTE does not apply to us."
But he was unable to say if the school was a linguistic minority or a religious minority one.
Incidentally, this is the third case in the city where students have been issued leaving certificates after parents protested against alleged fee hike by the schools. Parents of the students studying in Rasbihari International School (RIS) had been protesting against the alleged fee hike by the institute since April 30, 2012.
They approached the deputy director of education, T N Supe, who after a prolonged period formed an inquiry committee and directed the education officers of the ZP. Following this the panel submitted the report, along with the revised fee structure, to the deputy director.
In the first week of February, 2013, the deputy director asked the school to curtail the fees from Rs 37,200 to Rs 32,2225. But the parents were not satisfied with it saying that it should be reduced further.
Aggressive protests, complaints of parents against the alleged harassment by the school authorities and violation of RTE by the school that issued leaving certificates to their wards, the intervention of Child Rights Commission did no good for the parents. The commission heard the case on April 8, April 23, May 7, June 4 and June 20. It later said that the matter did not come under their jurisdiction and the students took admission elsewhere.
The school administration maintained that it was a disciplinary action and also for non-payment of fees. Later, the school filed a defamation suit against the parents.
Manager of the school Madhav Deshpande had said that their school came under the linguistic minority category and hence the RTE did not apply to them.
"Approximately 100 students had to take admission in other schools. When I took admission for my son the school did not have any minority certificate. It was during the hearing by the Child Rights Commission that the school got the minority certificate," alleged one of the parents, S K Jain.
Vijay Mundaware and his wife, Jayashree, had been protesting against the alleged illegal and exorbitant fee hike by Ashoka Universal School following which their wards were issued leaving certificates by the school for the alleged misbehaviour of their parents.
The parents filed a petition at the HC alleging violation of the Right to Education Act 2005 against the school.
The case kept getting postponed at the Bombay High Court (HC) and finally some suggestions were given by the judges to the parents like the children be sent to the school for one year, the parents should go to the school only on invitation by the institute and they should pay the remainder of the fees. Since all the suggestions were not acceptable to the petitioners, no solution could be arrived at and the case was postponed again. Later, the parents were asked to keep their wards in the school for a year since the girl was in Class X and abstain from speaking to the media.
AUS secretary Shrikant Shukla had also told TOI that the school came under the linguistic minority category.
"Since two years, the Mundaware couple were protesting against fee hike since the (fee) structure was not approved. They also protested against capitation fee," said one of the parents on conditions of anonymity. Refuting all the excuses by the schools, assistant director of education, R R Marwadi said, "RTE applies to every school, even for minority schools. In case of the FIR against Silver Oak, it is for the police to take action."

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