The Delhi government may take over two branches of a private city school in an unprecedented move after complaints of repeated fee hikes and fake admissions under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota.
City education minister Manish Sisodia said the government sent “take over” notices to the Rohini and Pitampura branches of Maxfort School for violating provisions of the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act, 1973, and the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.
In two weeks, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will take over the management of the schools — where around 3,000 students study — if their response is found unsatisfactory.
“We have initiated the process of taking over the two branches of Maxfort School as an action against recalcitrant private school. Action was initiated following complaints from parents and teachers,” said Sisodia. This is the first time the city government has threatened to take over a private school.
The move was cheered by parents, who filed a complaint with Sisodia last year alleging harassment, fake EWS admissions and tax evasion through manipulation of official records.
“This is a good start and raises the hopes of thousand of parents. We are confident that if government takes over, the school will run better,” said Satish Arora, whose son studies in Class 4 of Maxfort’s Rohini branch.
The management of Maxfort School — that has two other branches in Delhi — termed the move illegal. An inquiry set up by Sisodia under the directorate of education (DoE) and district magistrate (north-west) found the schools were violating the RTE as admissions under the EWS/disadvantaged group was far below the stipulated 25% of total strength.
The schools also failed to maintain service books and personal files of teachers and didn’t furnish details relating to staff salary statements and attendance registers, the report said.
The probe found the school collected capitation fee — which is unlawful — and its management violated section 24 of the DSE act that makes it mandatory for every school to be inspected at least once annually. HT had reported on July 13 last year about the inquiry.
But the private school — that is managed by the Chadha Educational Society and S Jagat Singh Chadha Charitable Trust — said if the government planned to take over the institution, they will challenge the move in court.
“This is highly unfortunate and illegal. When the DoE already conducted an inquiry and stated the fee hike was justifiable and stated in court, how can the government now take action?” said a school management committee member.
Since coming to power in February 2015, the AAP government has focused on education and promised a set of highprofile reforms in city schools. It devoted the largest chunk of the city budget to education and identified 54 government schools to be developed as models with high-tech equipment and special training for teachers.
But several such education initiatives have triggered controversy with critics saying the AAP government was infringing the autonomy of private institutions.
In January, the Delhi high court scrapped a city government notice that outlawed management quota for nursery admission in private unaided schools.