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Billabong school parents want compensation

The parents are aggrieved with RKF for terminating its franchise agreement with Kangaroo Kids Education Limited, reports Neha Bhayana.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 21:24 IST

Parents of former students of erstwhile Billabong High School (now renamed Vibgyor), at Goregaon are going to claim damages-Rs 1 lakh per student-from the Rustom Kerawalla Foundation (RKF), which runs the school.

The parents are aggrieved with RKF for terminating its franchise agreement with Kangaroo Kids Education Limited (KKEL) and had moved consumer court earlier this year. 

What has bolstered their case is the fact that a Baroda consumer court ruled in favour of parents of a Billabong School branch there, claiming that RKF cannot terminate its contract with KKEL before the end of the academic year. While the Baroda order does not have any effect in Mumbai, some parents now want to use this as a basis to demand compensation for the trouble they encountered. 

RKF runs three schools in Mumbai, Pune and Baroda and had signed a 25-year contract with KKEL to provide the curriculum for 25 years. However, the ICSE board denied affiliation to the Mumbai school in July allegedly due to its agreement with KKEL.

The rejection sparked off a bitter battle-allegations, counter-allegations, legal action, the charity' commissioners' order to terminate the franchise and finally a dramatic separation between the two parties.

Thereafter, RKF re-christened its schools as Vibgyor High and adopted its own curriculum on August 22.  

"I had enrolled my daughter in the school because I had full faith in Kangaroo Kids. It is not right. If Rustom wanted to end the contract he should have given us the option," said Congress spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam one of the four-five parents who went to court. Nirupam's daughter studied in Standard IV of the school and has now been moved to Kangaroo Kid's Billabong School, Juhu. 

"They cannot just terminate the contract. People had enrolled their children because of Kangaroo Kids' way of teaching and this is not acceptable to them," said Lina Asher, managing director of KKEL. Asher added that a KKEL run Billabong School will be up and running in Malad by 2007. 

Chief trustee Rustom Kerawalla said that parents are welcome to move court. "Parents have the right to go to court if they want to. Justice will prevail," said Kerwalla. He added that no consumer court order would affect the functioning of the school.
 
Vibgyor High School has approximately 2000 students and the majority are happy with the way the school is running after the termination of the franchise-about 50 parents withdrew their wards after the controversy, claim school authorities. 

"We are very satisfied with the way the management is running the school. None of us would even think of shifting our children. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Vibgyor is the best school in the city in a few years," said Sanjita Prasad, whose daughter studies in Standard IV.

Vibgyor High school has re-applied for ICSE affiliation and is awaiting inspection. "We will definitely get affiliation," said Kerwalla. Presently, forty-five students are in Standard VIII and their future depends on this affiliation.

Email neha.bhayana@hindustantimes.com