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Sacked Mumbai school principal turns to school tribunal for justice

Lalitha Hariharan, who has worked in Rizvi Springfield High School for 15 years, was asked to resign last month because the administration was not ‘happy with her work’

School principal Lalitha Hariharan, who has been working at Rizvi Springfield High School in Bandra (West) for the past 15 years, was in for a rude shock when the school management abruptly terminated her services last month.

While the termination letter given to Hariharan does not mention the exact reason why she was asked to leave, the school’s trustee blamed it on ‘inefficiency’ and ‘lack of administrative skills’
While the termination letter given to Hariharan does not mention the exact reason why she was asked to leave, the school’s trustee blamed it on ‘inefficiency’ and ‘lack of administrative skills’

She has three years of service to go before retirement. Hariharan has now sought the intervention of the education department and registered a case with the School Tribunal.

“The school trustee called me to his cabin one day and told me that he was not happy with my work, and that due to a series of events, I would have to resign from my post as school principal,” said Hariharan. She received the termination letter on April 30, and within a week, the school gave her three months’ salary in advance.

“Even my termination letter does not mention the exact reason why I was asked to leave. I have served this school for 15 years, and yet, this is how they choose to repay me now,” she added.

Meanwhile, the school trustee told mid-day that the principal was asked to resign because of her ‘inefficiency’ and ‘lack of administrative skills’. Dr A Rizvi, the school trustee, said, “She has also created trouble for the institution in the past and worked against the interest of the school.”

Rizvi alleged that two years ago, when the school was trying to get ICSE affiliation, in addition to their current state board status, the principal had created trouble for the school. “The new school campus is being built in Khar, where the ICSE students will be shifted.

But till the building is ready, we have started the ICSE section in our current state board school. However, Hariharan wrote to the board officials in Delhi and pointed out problems in the school, thus jeopardising our reputation,” said Dr Rizvi. Hariharan, however, rubbished these allegations. The state board and ICSE sections currently share space in the same school building.

Rules say
The school education department has stated that a school can terminate services of any employee, provided they set up an inquiry committee and prove the charges against the employee.

“A school trust can take such action, but they have to ensure that the charges they levelled against the employee are proved, through an inquiry committee,” said N B Chavan, deputy director of school education, Mumbai region. In Hariharan’s case, no such inquiry committee has been set up.

With the school refusing to speak to Hariharan after April 30, she has sought the help of the education department. “I have written to the education inspector as well as the deputy director of education, requesting them to intervene in the matter. I have also filed a case with the school tribunal, and I’m hoping to get justice,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hariharan maintains that while she doesn’t want to get her job back any more, she does want a clean chit from the school. “I want a clean chit in terms of my character from the school, because I have done nothing wrong,” she said.

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