After this paper’s report on school isolating eight-year-old girl for non-payment of fees, police act against principal, teacher and management
Mrugendra Rane, the child’s father
The Dadar police registered an FIR against the headmistress of Sharadashram Vidyamandir International School, and a teacher for allegedly humiliating and punishing an eight-year-old girl over non-payment of fees, the day mid-day published the news report, on Friday. The police also recorded statements of the child’s father, the principal and the teacher on Friday.
The FIR was registered against headmistress Rajita Bale and the child’s class teacher Priya Parab. The duo has been booked under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The girl studies in Std II at Sharadashram Vidyamandir International School. File pic/Atul Kamble
The Sharadashram Vidyamandir trust runs both Sharadashram Vidyamandir where former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar studied and the Sharadashram Vidyamandir International School.
The Std II student and her parents alleged that the class teacher did not allow her to appear for an exam (unit test-2) and made her sit in a separate room away from her classmates as punishment for over two hours on Wednesday, as they have been unable to pay her fees. The child’s father, Mrugendra Rane, said when he went to pick up his daughter, he learnt that she had been forced to wait on the school’s staircase.
The parents claim that the incident has traumatised their child. Rane on Thursday submitted a complaint letter to Dadar police. He also emailed a complaint letter to the Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) the same day.
Citing a financial crisis, the parents had requested and assured the school that he would pay the fees soon. However, the school sent a letter to them warning that the child would not be allowed to take the exam if the fees were not paid. The letter, parents allege, reached a day before the exam, on January 10. The girl’s father has said in his complaints that the total school fees are around R78,000 and he has to pay R60,460 of them.
“The FIR was registered after mid-day’s report. I have already given my statement to the police. I fear that the school management will delete the CCTV camera footage,” said Rane.
Rane, a resident of Gokhale Road in Dadar West, owns a small shop.
‘Police being pressured’
The allegations have been refuted by the school management, and the chairman said they have CCTV camera footage that can prove that the child was not made to sit in a room for two hours.
Talking about the FIR, Gajendra Shetty, chairman of Sharadashram Vidyamandir International School, said, “We urged the police not to file the FIR and have a look at the CCTV camera footage first. We learnt that the parent (Rane) has been pressuring the police to file an FIR. However, we have not done anything wrong and have CCTV camera footage proving that the parent has been spreading false information. The child was not made to sit in a room for two hours, she can be seen playing outside in the footage. Also, there was a dance practice going on, she is also in a group photo clicked at the time. We are taking legal opinion in the matter and will decide on the next course of action after that.”
When contacted, the police told mid-day that the FIR was filed after the headmistress and teacher admitted to making the child sit alone in a room and not letting her appear for the unit test.
Babaso Salunkhe, sub-inspector, Dadar police station, said, “We immediately acted upon the parent’s complaint and recorded the statements of parents, the headmistress and the teacher. While recording the statements, both the principal and teacher admitted to making the child sit in the room alone and not letting her appear for the unit test. However, they clarified that they had no malintentions. The child’s father said said they had not been paying the fees since last year. The school had been urging the parents to pay the fees repeatedly but in vain. They punished the child even though it was not her fault.”
Salunkhe added, “For now, we have registered an FIR against the headmistress and the teacher under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. We will check the CCTV camera footage and then send a notice to the school. We will also consult the education department on the same.”