An angry mob of parents, led by local politicians, protested in front of Byculla’s St Agnes High School on Monday, alleging that the school made around 40 girl students between Std VIII and X stand in the sun for about seven hours on Friday as punishment for staying absent the previous day.
Both students and parents say that Byculla’s St Agnes school cracks down heavily when students stay absent despite having leave notes, and the required 75 per cent attendance. An angry mob of parents led by local politicians protested in front of the school on Monday. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
But the school has refuted all such claims and issued a statement saying it never asked the students to stand outside the building. Students have also alleged that after Friday’s controversy, the school pressurised them to sign letters stating that they were never punished.
No, not again
This is not the first time there has been a controversy in this private school. Parents and students have alleged that the school is known to punish students who miss classes in large numbers due to personal reasons.
“Last year, too, we were made to stand out in the sun until the lunch break,” a student told mid-day. Both students and parents say that the school would crack down heavily when students stay absent despite having leave notes and the required 75 per cent attendance.
But on Friday, things became intolerable for these parents when about 40 girls from Std VIII to X were made to stand in the sun for about seven hours for being absent on Thursday. The girls were allegedly asked to stand out until school was over without access to their bags.
Some of them felt giddy and their legs and backs developed aches due to constantly standing. Students also alleged that after the controversy which followed Friday’s incident, the school pressurised them to write letters stating that it had never asked them to stand in the sun.
“They made us write that they did not punish us at all. We gave them the letter on Monday morning. But since the school has collected all those letters from us, we don’t have a copy,” said one of the students from Std IX. A similar incident had occurred last year as well where students were punished for half a day.
Parents claimed that they have complained to the management several times in the past and on Monday, they demanded the removal of the principal. The school was stormed by angry parents on Monday who raised slogans against the principal and demanded an apology and her removal. Police bandobast had to be put in place.
The other side
Refuting all these claims, the school issued a statement saying, “On Friday, July 10, there were quite a few students who were absent (on Thursday) and hence they could not be accommodated along the corridor of the Principal’s office where absentees usually stand for signatures.
Hence, they stood outside the school building by their own choice.” The Principal, Sr Louisa D’Mello, has also admitted that she did not pay attention to the 40 girls’ presence outside the school building, but did not accept that the girls were punished by the school.
Namira, a Std X student who was punished
Since I did not attend school on Thursday, I, along with other girls, had gone to the principal sister Louisa. We required her signature on the leave note. She did not meet either of us, and made us stand outside her cabin. We were later moved to the premises outside the school building where we stayed until the school got over. Although we were allowed to eat our tiffins in the lunch break, there was no shade there and I felt very hot.
Khadim Kara, parent of one of the punished students
How can the school punish students at all? They all had leave notes and the required 75 per cent attendance. Just because they stayed absent for one day, how can the school act so strictly?