HYDERABAD: The Telangana high court on Wednesday wondered how many schools have been derecognised till now for violating the government’s directive to collect only tuition fee and not any other fees from students during the pandemic.
The judges said officials would not be spared for their lackadaisical attitude to rein in private schools fleecing the parents. “Tell us what have the inquiry teams constituted by you done to ensure that every school implements the GO. What action have you taken against errant schools? How many of them have been derecognised so far,” asked a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy.
The judges directed the school education authorities to inform the court by April 23 on the action taken against schools and also sought a counter from the government. The judges were hearing a batch of pleas filed by parents and also PILs questioning the government’s inability to come to the rescue of parents.
The government issued GO No. 46 on April 21, 2020, asking the private schools to confine themselves to collecting tuition fee component of the school fee in view of the pandemic.
Appearing for more than 200 aggrieved parents of St Andrews High School (Marredpally and Bowenpally branches) in Secunderabad, senior counsel L Ravi Chander told the court that the school did not reduce the school fee despite the government’s fiat.
“Instead, it started calling the whole of the collected fee as tuition fee,” he said.
State’s special counsel A Sanjeev Kumar said the government has also received complaints against the school. “They are collecting caution deposits from students over and above the school fee. They are saying that this money would be refunded at the time of the student leaving the school. We issued a notice to the school. We also issued notices to several such schools,” he said.
The school’s counsel said that a previous bench had made an interim arrangement for the parents to pay 50% of fee arrears pending up to January 5, 2021, to enable their students to sit for examinations. The parents’ counsel said the school management, however, withheld the results of the students having fee dues even after clearing the full arrears.
The judges then directed the parents and the school to ensure that those who did not pay 50% dues to hand over the same to the school counsel in the court. The school will then declare the results within one day upon receipt of such a fee, they said.