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Ashok Hall Group schools reopen amid cases, few guardians move court over ‘harassment’

The PILs by about 45 parents mentions that they had paid 80 per cent of the fees as ordered by the high court

Jhinuk Mazumdar, Tapas Ghosh | Published 12.04.22, 07:33 AM
Students on their way to Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School on Monday.

Students on their way to Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School on Monday.

Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

The Ashok Hall Group of Schools reopened on Monday and they allegedly again denied entry to students whose dues had not been cleared.

Parents of a number of students at GD Birla Centre for Education, one of the three schools that were shut down last week by the management because of parents’ protests over fees, filed two public interest litigation (PIL) petitions in the high court on Monday seeking the court’s intervention in connection with the alleged harassment of students and parents.

GD Birla Centre for Education, Mahadevi Birla Shishu Vihar and Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School — all belonging to the Ashok Hall Group of Schools — had cited concerns about the “law and order situation” because of the parents’ protests while shutting down the campuses on Thursday.

A call and text messages to a senior official of the Ashok Hall Group of Schools went unanswered. A spokesperson for the group declined comment.

The PILs by about 45 parents mentions that they had paid 80 per cent of the fees as ordered by the high court. But the school, it alleges, is demanding fees according to its own structure and withholding report cards or denying entry to children.

The high court had on Wednesday ruled that private unaided schools whose names had come up with regard to allegations of arbitrary fee hike during the pandemic could not deny promotion to any student or withhold report cards for non-payment of fees.

The court had also said that any complaint of arbitrary increase in school fees during the pandemic would be looked into by two joint special officers designated by it. 

Parents of some students at GD Birla had taken their children to school on Monday. When denied entry, they apparently made a video of the moments. The purported footage was submitted to the court.

“We have decided to not participate in any agitation because we do not want the school to shut down again,” said one of the parents who filed the PIL. 

Only students who were carrying the “yellow card” issued by the schools were allowed entry on Monday. 

Students were also stopped at the gates of Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School and Mahadevi Birla Shishu Vihar on Monday. 

Some parents said Mahadevi Birla Shishu Vihar had asked them to take their children back home after they had entered the school. The school had taken students of classes IX to XII to a museum.

“The students were to report directly to the museum. I did not want to send my child because there is no point being turned away from an outdoor spot,” said the mother of a Class XII student.

At Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School, a student was not only denied entry but the mother was accosted by other parents who had paid the fees as demanded by the school when she intervened citing a court order, the family alleged.

The schools had on Saturday issued a notification saying they would reopen for those students whose dues had been cleared. 

Parents of GD Birla students who had made payments according to the school’s fee structure at the last moment but did not get the yellow card said their children were allowed entry after they produced documents of payment. 

Some of the parents were also showing messages from phones before they were allowed entry into the school. 

Many parents who had paid according to the high court direction and had not received report cards did not take their children to school fearing humiliation.

“It is mentally upsetting for a child to be turned away from school when all her friends are going in,” said the father of a Class V student.

Last updated on 12.04.22, 07:50 AM
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