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Students held to ransom
DAV school row over parent-teacher clash

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 23: The decision to close all DAV Public Schools in the state from Thursday will affect nearly 30,000 students with CBSE Board exams barely a month away.

The 42 schools will remain closed for an indefinite period with over 3,000 teachers deciding to boycott classes as a mark of protest against the alleged assault by parents on the principal of DAV-CDA, Cuttack, yesterday.

“We will not join classes until the criminals are punished. We demand better security for female teachers, who constitute 80 per cent of the total teacher strength in the state,” said Bhagyabati Nayak, principal of DAV Unit-VIII here.

Nearly 200 teachers joined her from various English medium schools in the twin cities. They staged a silent protest in the state capital. They said the principal of DAV-CDA, Ipsita Das, was physically and verbally abused on the school compound for four hours yesterday afternoon by a group of parents and guardians, who were demanding withdrawal of a notice for collection of enhanced tuition fees. The hike ranges between Rs 900 and 1,200 per month.

The agitating parents allegedly forced her to write a notice withdrawing the decision. In the incident, four cars and CCTV cameras on the school premises were damaged. The victim, who did not attend today’s protests, has lodged an FIR with the local police station before filing an application with the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court last night.

“Despite several appeals to senior police officers, they did not come to her rescue. The errant police personnel must be taken to task,” said K.C. Satpathy, principal, DAV-Chandrasekharpur.

Members of various DAV parents’ associations in the twin cities have been staging demonstrations and road blockades outside the schools, demanding rollback of the fee hike decision. They alleged that the chairman of the interim committee constituted on the instructions of the Supreme Court, last May, had taken an arbitrary decision.

The committee headed by special secretary, school and mass education department I.C. Barda (who retired soon after) ordered a three-fold hike on November 23. Even Bhubaneswar mayor Ananta Narayan Jena, who was a member of the interim committee, wrote to the state government alleging Barda had taken decision independently in violation of the court order.

The regional director of DAV management-Odisha, Himanshu Mohanty, had announced that the “schools shall not impose the collection of fees at hiked rates as the case would come up for hearing (in the Supreme Court) on January 14”.

However, the case has not yet come up for hearing. The DAV managing committee, New Delhi, communicated to the schools to go ahead with collection of fees at revised rates.

Satpathy denied that the fee hike issue was sub judice. “The case in the Supreme Court does not pertain to fee hike. The court will decide if constitution of the interim committee was justified and if the private school managements should come under the Orissa Education Act,” he said.

Satpathy said he recently had a meeting with parents in the presence of the local police, who suggested that any order issued by higher authorities of DAV management regarding the fee hike would be acceptable to them. “If they were not satisfied, they could move the court of law. They agreed to the suggestions,” he said.

A fee hike by DAV Schools in 2009-10, on plea of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations for both teaching and non-teaching staff, had been struck down by Orissa High Court, in September 2011.

A division bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda had endorsed an earlier court ruling, which said: “Orissa Education Act is applicable to the DAV Schools, which are affiliated to the CBSE. The managing committee is to be constituted in accordance with the Orissa Education Act and not as per the affiliation bylaws of the CBSE.”