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ACB raids school that demanded money for school-leaving certificates

After mid-day reported that the Agripada school authorities had refused to provide marksheets and school-leaving certificates to students who didn’t pay Rs 2,000, parents complained to the anti-corruption bureau

Four days after mid-day reported that a city school was demanding money to provide marksheets and school-leaving certificates to students, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials raided the school and caught a clerk in the act of accepting the money. A case has been registered against the clerk and the principal.

Also read: Pay Rs 2000 for 'amenities' or forget about stamped marksheets: School

Parents say St Joseph’s School in Agripada has demanded such amounts in the past as well. Pics/Sameer Markande
Parents say St Joseph’s School in Agripada has demanded such amounts in the past as well. Pics/Sameer Markande

The school in question is the St Joseph’s Girls High School in Agripada, which had earlier asked parents to fork out R2,000, as their children had used the school facilities. Their refusal to provide stamped copies of printouts of subject marks – which SSC students had to submit as part of the online admissions process to junior colleges – had put their admissions in jeopardy.

J Ansari, who filed the complaint with the ACB
J Ansari, who filed the complaint with the ACB

Caught in the act
After the SSC board released official marksheets of students on Thursday, parents went to collect them at the school. However, authorities refused to release report cards and the school-leaving certificates to parents who hadn’t shelled out the ‘development fee’.


Parents who paid up the ‘development fee’ were given an unofficial slip receipt bearing a Kamathipura address

“On Thursday, when all SSC students were getting their marksheets, the principal refused to hand over my daughter’s result and insisted that the documents would be provided only if we pay R2,000,” said J Ansari, father of one of the SSC students.

Parents contacted the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) for support. “We immediately informed the education department and two education officials accompanied parents to the school. They ordered the principal to stop targeting children and distribute the results without any further delay,” said Heena Kanojia, from NSUI.

However, the next day, school authorities were back to their extorting ways when they didn’t provide school-leaving certificates; they had only given the marksheets. Parents contacted the ACB and after listening to them, the Bureau sent a plainclothes official along with the parents. “The clerk again told us to pay up. We did, and the ACB caught him red-handed then,” added Ansari.

Happened in the past
Ansari further added that the parents, who paid up the money but demanded receipts were given a vague one. “It is an unofficial receipt bearing the name of the school’s Parent Teachers Association, and a Kamathipura address,” Ansari informed.

Parents added that the school has used this tactic in the past as well. “Every year, we are forced to pay this amount and never told what exactly is it charged for. Last year, too, I fought against this system and so the principal has not yet given me my daughter’s Std IX results,” pointed a parent.

The education department had even warned the school for collecting such ‘development fees’. Principal Sr Lovena Almeida had herself said the school took money, because “the school hadn’t received a non-salary grant for nine years and students had to pay for the facilities they used.”

She, and the school management, despite repeated attempts, were unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, parents managed to get their marksheets on the last day of completing the online admissions process i.e. yesterday.

Copspeak
Vishwas Nangre-Patil, additional commissioner of police, ACB, told mid-day that no arrests have been made as of now. “We have caught the school clerk red-handed for charging money in the name of development fees and not even providing valid receipts for the same.

Before making arrests, we will have to check with the education department about the regular fee structure followed in schools. As of now, a case has been registered against the school principal and clerk under Section 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) of the Anti-Corruption Act,” said Patil.

“The complainant was not happy with the demand made by the school authorities and approached us. We then arranged for a team to trap the senior clerk Victoria Barrek, who was demanding money on behalf of principal Lovena Almeda,” said Praveen Dixit, director general of police, ACB, Maharashtra. Parents hope the ACB will also help them get their money back.

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