Parents call it extortion, the school justifies fees... the truth?
“When you go to a garment store for shopping, you already know how much a branded and a local pair of jeans would cost. The choice is yours... We know the rules and the acts, but we can’t run without the fees.”
These are the words of Roopkamal Singh, the vice-principal of Amity International School in Vasundhara, Sector 1.
The standoff between the parents and the school has been deepened by the fact that administration has done its bit in terms of sending notices and circulars, but implementation remained slack.
On July 31st, the school put out a reminder notice, giving an ultimatum to parents who refused to pay the charges under the three heads of AC, Annual and Activity. It asked parents to pay up by August 6, or have the names of their wards struck off from the school rolls.
Parents alleged similar intimidation had been employed earlier, forcing parents to reach out to the administration in hopes of mediation.
Amit Kumar Dubey, secretary of Amity Parents’ Association, recalled, “It started when the parents questioned the school for not taking fees in accordance with the ordinance [Uttar Pradesh Self Financed Independent Schools Ordinance]. In fact, they made dubious claims of the copy of the ordinance not reaching them!”
On June 25, District Inspector of Schools (DIOS), Pankaj Pandey, issued a letter along with the ordinance’s copy to the school. The letter mentioned that the copy of the ordinance had already been forwarded to all schools through email on April 12. It also dubbed money charged under AC, Annual and Activity charges as “illegal extortion”.
The DIOS order
The DIOS also referred to Ghaziabad DM’s order, which said that schools should refrain themselves from actions such as issuance of TC, threatening children and discriminating against them. It also said till there’s clarity on the formulation of fees as per the ordinance, schools will not charge raised fee.
On June 26, an order came from the then Joint Director (Education), wherein the school was ordered to not strike off the students’ names till clarity about the ordinance was achieved.
However, the school claimed to have not received the orders issued by multiple authorities. “Apart from the DIOS’s letter, we haven’t received any official order,” the VP stressed.
The order came from the Joint Director (Education)
City Spidey met with the school authorities to get their version.
Immediately on the offensive, the vice-principal, Roopkamal Singh, began the conversation by showing a press release draft which was to be distributed among media after getting a go-ahead from the chairman. The crux of the draft: “Few parents are trying to malign the reputation of the school”.
The release, she said, was just a “precautionary measure”.
The VP then said, “We are following the DIOS orders, and we have not raised our fees. In fact, the DIOS had called a few days back and said that he will check the fees himself. We have followed the ordinance in our fee structure.”
The DIOS, however, doesn’t have the authority to approve or disapprove a fee structure. That power, according to the ordinance, rests with Divisional Fee regulatory Committee (DFRC).
When City Spidey contacted the DIOS, he was quick to retaliate: “How can I approve something out of my jurisdiction, school is misleading the parents!”
Surprisingly, when the school’s administration head, Arun Chaudhary, was asked whether he had approached the DFRC after calculating fee structure, he claimed to have never heard of the DFRC. “I don’t know about it. Nobody informed us to do so,” he said.
On the subject of discrimination against the children, the VP completely denied the allegation. “The parents are lying,” she countered.
But City Spidey found access for a few children to the school’s domain ‘Amitranet’ revoked, an allegation levelled by parents.
Revoked access to Amitranet