The state’s school education department is set to investigate a complaint against a Dombivli, school for allegedly collecting donations via third parties in the past and charging fees even for its government-aided section.
The complainant, J Venkateshwaran, is a member of the association that runs the 68-year-old school. He alleged that money trails show that a few years ago the school asked parents deposit money in third party accounts to secure admissions for their wards.
“In 2010, a parent seeking admission for his daughter to Class 1 was told to pay Rs 20,000 to a transport agency. Bank records, which we submitted to the department, show that the agency then transferred the money to the association,” said Venkateshwaran, who filed the complaint along with Forum for Fairness in Education, an NGO. “The school annual report shows the amount as being incorporated as building funds.”
School records acquired by the complainant through the Right to Information (RTI) show that even though the school’s secondary section is aided by the government, it charges Rs2,600 per student annually for computer, exam charges, administrative, smart class and activities.
The association’s president, however, refuted the allegations on illegal donations. “The member lost our association’s elections in 2014 and so has held a grudge against the school,” said the president. “Any donations received by the school are voluntary. Under section 80G of the Income Tax Act, we can collect them.”
Adding that the school has not received non-salary grants for the last 10 years, he said, “Grants worth lakhs of rupees are still pending. Meanwhile, we need money to meet our expenses and we furnish a receipt to parents on paying the fees.”
Education officials said that they would look into the issue. “These allegations are serious and we will set up an inquiry to look into it. Aided schools cannot charge fees and we have been disbursing non-salary grants for the last three years,” said BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region, which includes Thane, Raigad and Palghar.