A parent of a Class 5 student at Billabong School in Malad has alleged that the school authorities confined her daughter to the school library on two occasions over a fee-related tussle.
Coretta D’Souza, who has filed a complaint with the Charkop police station dated April 7, said she had paid the fees but the school “lost” a cheque of Rs 44,500 that she gave in January 2009.
On March 9, after more than a year of the cheque being issued, the school allegedly confined her daughter, Divya, in the library during class hours. D’Souza claimed that the school told her this would continue till she paid the fees. On March 10, Divya was allegedly not allowed to leave the library for the entire day. From the next day, Divya refused to go to school.
School authorities refuted the allegations, saying it was a complete non-issue. “We would never do something like this to a child,” said Kusum Kanwar, head of school operations of Billabong schools. “The parent needs counselling. On other occasions too, she has tried to disrupt the functioning of the school.”
Kanwar said the school could not be held responsible if their bank misplaced the cheque and writing a new cheque should not be a problem.
The fee issue was resolved around April 19 when the concerned bank issued a letter admitting that it had lost her cheque. D’Souza then wrote a new cheque.
But D’Souza is adamant that the police take necessary action in the case. “The school has said their policy of confining children to the library in case of non-payment (either if school has “lost” cheques or if parents have not paid) will not be changed,” her complaint to the police stated.
The police have so far refused to register an FIR. D’Souza has now approached Jayant Jain of the Forum for Fairness in Education for help in the matter. “This policy of confining children is completely unacceptable for any reason,” said Jain.
Before the school closed for summer holidays mid April, Divya did not attend school for a month because D’Souza alleged, she was too scared to do so.
D’Souza wrote a letter to the school principal on March 10, when the alleged second episode of confinement took place, stating that, “I am aghast to know you sanctioned this wrongful confinement of Divya. Not only is this illegal it has also traumatised her immensely.”