A two-year long tussle between the management of Lokhandwala Foundation School in Kandivali (E) and parents of a girl student has led to another major problem. The school has been temporarily shut down and SSC preliminary examinations have also been deferred for now. While parents insist the school must readmit their daughter to the school as directed by the state child rights commission, school says it is against their rule.
Meanwhile, parents of other students are crying foul citing their children are losing crucial academic hours. On Wednesday, a mob of 150 Shiv Sena workers barged into the school and forced the principal to allow the girl to attend the class . Following this, the administration sent an e-mail to all the parents informing them about the temporary closure of the school citing security issue.
The email by Principal Arti Desai reads, “Today the parent of a child regarding whom a matter is pending in the court forcibly entered the school premises accompanied by 150 people and compelled the school to allow the child to sit in class VII. Such unruly behaviour has caused immense disturbance in the school. Considering this situation, the school will remain closed until further notice.” The school has also deferred the preliminary SSC examinations.
The conflict had first begun when the school had sent an email to the parents in January 2014, stating that the student’s name would be struck off the register and she would not be allowed to enter the school premises or sit for her annual exam as she had failed to attend the school for seven months (from August 2013 to March 2014).
The parents had then requested the school to make an exception and allow their daughter to appear for the final exam at least.The parents of the girl then informed the school that she had not been able to attend school as the family had moved to their hometown in Nanded district, to tackle a legal case.
However, when the school refused to readmit the student, the parents registered a complaint with the Education Department as well as the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) in January 2014.In December 2014, however, the commission ruled that the school was not at fault for denying permission to appear for the exams, as the student had not attended classes for almost an entire academic year.
Following this, the parents once again moved the MSCPCR to review the order, on the basis of the no-fail policy under the Right To Education (RTE) Act, under which no child can be held back or detained in the same class until Std VIII.But in the meantime, even though the family returned to Mumbai about a year ago, the parents failed to admit the girl in another school, instead letting her lose another academic year in 2014-2015 — a decision that the commission criticised during a hearing last year.
“The parents were at fault by not sending the student to school for seven months and not informing the school but as per the RTE Act, the school cannot deny admission to the girl or even detain her in the same class,” said B B Chavan, Deputy Director In-Charge of School Education.While the school has refused to readmit the student, her parents are adamant to send their daughter back to the same school.
The parents of the girl said, “We have a letter by the deputy director of School Education Department directing the school management to admit my daughter, the school is still not ready to follow the orders. They cannot deny admission to my daughter as they will violate RTE act.” Meanwhile, Principal Arti Desai was not available for any comment.