Parents complain against PTAs over school feesUpdated: Aug 06, 2020 01:03 IST
As the pandemic and the resultant financial loss led to parents urging several private schools to reduce their fees, parent teacher associations, which are expected to help parents address their grievances, are posing as obstacles.
Several parents said that even as a large number of them had urged the school management to reduce fees, PTA had not spoken in their favour. “We have been urging parent representatives on the PTA executive committee to put our issues in front of the management, but they seem to be in favour of the school. In fact, the school has also used many of those members against parents to threaten them to pay full fees,” said the parent of a south Mumbai-based school which recently discontinued online classes for students whose parents have requested a cut in the fees.
After several requests in this regard were sent from parents of private schools to the government, state education minister Varsha Gaikwad had said the school PTA can recommend a fee reduction as per the rules.
As per the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011, schools in the state have to get any revisions in their fees approved by the executive committee of the PTA. The committee consists of the school principal as the chairperson, a parent as the vice-chairperson, a teacher as secretary, a teacher and a parent as joint secretaries and a parent and a teacher from every class as joint members.
Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum, said the apathy of several parents to be a part of the PTA is a key factor that allows private schools to act as per their whims. “Over the past few years, we are seeing a certain disinterest among parents in participating in PTAs and raising their voice. This is really bad for the parent community. This issue then gets highlighted in a situation like this where there are so many unaddressed complaints.”
Meanwhile, parents from several schools said the PTA had not been formed as per the due process. “There are many schools where elections to PTA don’t take place and people close to school management get appointed as parent representatives. However, this does not mean that the government cannot do anything. The government can step in and conduct audits of schools and take action if procedural lapses are found,” said Anubha Sahai, president of the Indiawide Parents Association.
Education commissioner Vishal Solanki said, “We cannot comment as the matter is subjudice.”
A government resolution released on May 8 stated that schools should stay all fee hikes for the current academic year and have to allow parents to pay fees in instalments. The GR, however, was stayed by the Bombay high court on June 26 in response to a petition by several organisations of private school owners. The petitioners had argued that the government cannot regulate fees of private schools as per the current rules.
What parents can do:
The executive committee of PTA has to approve any revision in the fee structure and such revisions have to be declared in advance.
The PTA can check expenditure and income of schools and urge the school to reduce fees if expenditure is found to be less
If 25% or more parents are unhappy with the PTA’s decision with respect to fees, they can approach the divisional fee regulatory committee (DFRC) and oppose the PTA’s decisions.