Mumbai: Autistic student asked to leave school; parents complain to child rights panel, edu dept

A day after a six-year-old autistic student of a south Mumbai school was denied entry to it, his parents filed an official complaint with the Child Rights Commission, as well as the BMC education department.

Also read: Child with mild autism asked to leave school

While the Cumballa Hill High School allowed the child to enter the school yesterday, they reiterated their stand that they would allow him in henceforth only if they send a special educator with him at their own cost. The education department has, however, made it clear that schools cannot hold parents to ransom in this way.

The mid-day report on August 7
The mid-day report on August 7

“On Friday, my son, Vinayak, was allowed to enter the school but by the end of the day we were categorically told that he will be allowed in school from Monday only if we send a special educator with him,” said B Jigalmadi, the boy’s father. After the parents insisted that they be given this in writing, they were handed over a paper, which had a one-line statement demanding a report by a psychologist/counsellor on Vinayak, in order “to help him better”.

According to parents, the authorities had first informed them that their son is a “slow learner” last year, coaxing them to get tests conducted on him. After a series of tests at the Nair Hospital LD Centre, the final report submitted by doctors clearly stated that even though Vinayak has mild autism, he is fit to study at a regular school.

“Special educators should be our choice, not the school’s. What’s the use of paying R60,000 in fees to the school if we have to invest in special educators separately?” asked Jigalmadi. The Jigalmadis yesterday approached the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, seeking help in the matter. A complaint was also registered against the school with the BMC education office in Dadar.

“Special educators cannot be forced upon parents; it has to be their wish whether they want to hire a special educator for their child. We will look into the matter and ask the school authorities to give an explanation for this behaviour,” said a senior official at the BMC education office.

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