Parachute regiment School (PRS), JC Nagar, near Mekhri Circle, is under legal battle over a major fee hike with the parents’ association. Connected to the dispute is the sudden renaming of the school to Army Public School (APS), arousing suspicion of foul play amidst parents.
The problem began when school management decided to hike the fees by 130 percent in 2009, according to parents. They reacted by forming an association and filed writ petition in the High Court, which subsequently quashed the fee hike on January 10th, 2011. A writ appeal filed by school management is yet to come to a conclusion.
After the court’s order, parents demanded refund of excessive fees paid to the management. The school did not.
Parachute Regiment School Parents Welfare Association, Secretary, Giri Kumar says that when in 2009 the school hiked the fees, it did not give a reason to do so.
The story takes a mysterious turn here. According to parents, the school deliberately changed its name to Army Public School, to come under the protection of of Army Welfare Education Society (AWES), as this required the school to follow a new curriculum and justify the hike.They claim that the school management did not pay heed to the parents’ concerns. On top of it, the management also demanded a re-admission fee to the tune of Rs 21000 in February 2012 from 1700 students.
Some parents, furious over management’s excessive fee charging, continued to pay along the old fee structure. This, they allege, led to their children facing the anger of the school management. Giri Kumar says, "Some students were not allowed to sit in the classroom. Some were humiliated. Recently one of them was locked in the library for the whole day."
Another parent, N Lakshminarayana says that even when school increased the fees and asked for re-admission fees, the amenities provided to the students are not enough in par with different schools. He says, "The condition of the toilets is bad, classroom floors are not even cemented, sometimes ceiling leaks during the rainy season."
The management changed the school’s name to Army Public School, PRTC, JC Nagar, from 2011-12. But, here underlies a different problem. Though the school formally changed its name in 2011, it got itself affiliated to AWES only on 1st April 2012. The school issued report cards to the students in name of APS.
This led parents to check whether APS is affiliated with CBSE. They sought an RTI reply from CBSE in April this year. In the reply, CBSE had no information about this particular school. However, surprisingly, as of today, CBSE on its website reflects APS as an affiliated school. A copy of both the documents is available with Citizen Matters.
Col A Dutta, Director of Schools, AWES, New Delhi spoke to Citizen Matters. On the issue of report cards used a year before on the name of APS, he mentions, "I cannot comment on this topic what they did a year before. We do the quality assessment and give the affiliation."
However, things get murkier here. The CBSE website mentions the name of ‘Brother of St Gabriel Education’ in the name of the trust/society/management committee of APS, PRTC, JC Road. However, APS got transferred under a society (AWES) which is not reflected in the website.
Also, according to CBSE bye-laws, under Annexure ‘A’ number 4, ‘the board would not allow any transfer of property/sale of school by one society/Management/Trust to another society/Management Trust through agreement/sale deed and the school shall not be closed down in the same premises.’ It further stated that in such scenario the board would withdraw its affiliation.
Another parent, Satish Diwedi suspects foul play. He quips that re-christening of APS is a recent activity but in the records of CBSE, it is mentioned 2003 as the year of foundation and 1992 as the first opening date. He adds, "We have filed an RTI again to dig into this issue."
The school authorities did not respond to questions. Citizen Matters spoke to the principal of this school, Mousami Dutta. She declined to comment.⊕