Published: 24th November 2021
I am being fair to private schools as well as parents: Bengaluru Urban DC on private school fee row
Now, parents have alleged that the DC has abused them and have written a letter to Chief Minister Bommai and the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission
In the eye of a storm where he stands accused of abusing parents and supporting private schools' concerns over theirs, a senior state official stands firm and tells us he is blameless. "I haven't abused any parents. As a District Commissioner, I am doing my job and being fair to both the parties. This is not some banana republic to let everyone go without paying the fees and let others suffer," said Manjunath J, Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban.
Parents whose children have been studying in a private school, Sri Vani Education Centre, Machohalli gate, Bengaluru have written to the Chief Minister, Basavaraj Bommai and the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission complaining about his actions. In their letter, parents have mentioned that the DC has abused them and have been supporting private schools when it comes to the payment of fees.
However, Manjunath has clearly denied these allegations. While speaking to Edexlive, he explained, "I took charge as Bengaluru Urban DC in February 2021, while this complaint was registered with the department and District Education Regulatory Authority in 2020. In June and July 2021, I spoke to the private school authorities as well these three parents who filed a complaint against the school. In August, I again summoned both the parties and asked parents to pay the school fee. These three parents haven't paid the school fee for almost three academic years. However, the school has been providing classes both offline and online to these three students. They were even allowed to write exams and promoted to the next academic year even without a single penny."
He further adds, "All that the school is saying is they can provide the transfer certificate to the students and they can study somewhere else. I have suggested to them that if they want access to free education, they can go to government schools. Just blaming the private schools for high fees will not work. They are supposed to pay the salaries and meet other expenses of their employees at schools."
According to the school, two children are in Class 10 and one child is studying in Class 6. "All the three kids have been studying in the same school for many years and their parents know the rules of the school very well. According to the information provided on the school application form, their parents come from a good social background and not from an economically weaker section. The school hasn't received a single penny from parents and if they can't pay, they have to produce some document justifying why they are unable to pay the fee," Manjunath explains.
Meanwhile, when we contacted Sri Viswanath, Principal of this school, he also agreed with this version of events and said, "We don't hold a grudge against children or their parents. But they should pay at least some portion of the amount instead of not paying a single rupee."
These three parents have filed a complaint with DERA saying that the school charges too much for education and hasn't declared fee details on their school website. They have requested DERA to fix the fees as per the Karnataka Education Act. Now, the parents have demanded an enquiry against the Commissioner. They have also demanded to check the CCTV footage of August 5, 2021 when the meeting was held where DC can allegedly be seen abusing them.
Now, the KSHRC has forwarded the complaint to the Primary and Secondary Education Department for further investigation on the matter.