Four months after the incident, an FIR has been registered at Rabale police station in Navi Mumbai against an Airoli-based school principal and management for allegedly detaining students outside the school entrance for six-and-a-half hours for non-payment of fees.
The parents of the students studying in VPM International School, Airoli, had alleged that five of the 100 kids detained fell ill after the incident on November 18, 2913, and had to be hospitalised. However, no police complaint was taken then. After the issue was reported in several newspapers, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) took suo motu cognisance of the matter.
In March last year, VPM International School announced around a 30 per cent fee hike across all classes. The annual fees for Classes I-IV was increased from Rs 18,700 to Rs 26,660, for classes V-VII from Rs 22,260 to Rs 30,420 and classes VIII-X from Rs 25,060 to Rs 33,420.
Around 100 parents opposed the fee hike citing no approval was taken from the PTA. The parents then continued to pay the fees according to the previous year’s fee structure. The school accepted the fees for the first two months, following which they started sending the cheques back. While some parents paid the hiked fees, others remained firm and ignored the fee hike.
Following this, the school sent notices in June 2013 to 60-odd parents. The notice stated that the parents must either pay fees or discontinue the admissions of their wards from June 3.
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“Our dispute was against hiked fees charged under heads like visual aid, computer and activity fees. We had an issue with the fee hike and had been asking the school to justify it, but the school refused to do so,” said Vijay Dhavale, a parent.
Students were also marked out from the rest by being made to wear blank identity cards. “This discrimination with kids was unfair.
This shows that they are only interested in profiteering,” said another parent Alankar Kumbhar.
Jayant Jain, president, Forum for Fairness in Education, said, “Often, police takes school related matters lightly. So, parents are hesitant in fighting against the schools.”
Assistant inspector A A Gawade said, “An FIR was registered on Wednesday against the school management and principal. The case has been registered under section 337, 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). We are yet to take the statements of the principal and other authorities.”
Principal Sandhya Sondur was unavailable for comment.