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Times of India Report copied from the link below.
‘Special treatment’ for St Mary’s, Bishop schools?
Senior State official bypasses ZP to take up RTE complaints
State edn director sends cases of alleged RTE Act violations by both schools back to the Zilla Parishad’s dist edn officer after learning divisional dy dir (Edn) is hearing them instead
Posted On Friday, April 12, 2013 at 08:43:39 AM
Taking cognisance of a complaint that the State deputy director (Education) for Pune division was hearing cases of alleged Right to Education (RTE) Act violations by prominent city schools The Bishop School and St Mary’s, instead of the Pune Zilla Parishad’s district education officer (DEO), Director (Education) Mahaveer Mane has ordered the cases back to the DEO.
The irregularity was brought to Mane’s notice by the original complainant against St Mary’s, advocate Nilesh Borate, who had approached the ZP education department on December 24, 2012 with RTE violation complaints by the school.
An inquiry was subsequently initiated, and a report was submitted by ZP Education Extension Officer K D Bhujbal, who is inquiry officer in this case, on December 28.
On December 29, a notice was issued, which asked the school to cancel its admission procedure as the inquiry had found RTE Act provisions had not been followed. Before taking any further action, District Education Officer S Kurhade conducted three hearings with St Mary’s representatives — on February 5, February 21 and March 3 — but a final decision was yet to be taken.
However, on April 1, divisional deputy director Suman Shinde summoned all concerned, including St Mary’s principal Sujata Mallik Kumar, St Mary’s lawyer S P Konkar, the Bishop representative, ZP deputy DEO Piraji Patil and Bhujbal. According to the complainant, Borate, Shinde didn’t ask him to be present for this hearing of school representatives.
In reply to his objection over the same, Borate said he was told his initial written complaint was enough, and that there was no need for him to be present for the hearing in her office. Acting on Borate’s complaint, Mane wrote to Shinde ordering her to restore the hearings in these cases to the ZP DEO.
“Students organisations have communicated to my office that the inquiry into these two schools is with the ZP DEO, but before this office could come to any conclusion, the case hearings were taken over by the deputy director’s office.
It will not be appropriate to take over these hearings before the lower authorities reach a decision. Deputy director’s office can take a call on the matter after the decision by lower authorities and appeals against the same by these two schools,” the letter stated.
Speaking to Mirror, Shinde denied allegations that she has taken over the case and conducted hearings. “Since the schools in question were not co-operating with ZP officials, I summoned them for a warning and asked them to submit all necessary documents to the ZP inquiry officer.
Even after this, they failed to co-operate, so I took over the case and conducted hearings on the issue. I can summon any school in Pune division if they’re found to be reluctant in cooperating with ZP education officers.
There is no question of me bypassing lower authorities in this case,” Shinde said. Borate, though, said these schools were getting preferential treatment. “There are many complaints against other schools as well that are being handled by the ZP education department. Why are the higher authorities treating these two schools as special cases?
We have told the State education director that we suspect vested interests in the way higher authorities wanted to take over the hearings.” St Mary’s principal, Sujata Mallik Kumar, said, “We are not interested in commenting on this issue at this time.” Meanwhile, the ball is back in DEO Kurhade’s court, who said, “Hearings on these complaints were held thrice earlier.
As no decision was taken on the issue, the case was taken to the office of the divisional deputy director. It has now been sent to my office again. I joined here recently, and the earlier hearings were by the preceding DEO.
I’m going to hear these cases for the first time on Friday.” In the case of The Bishop School, the complaint was lodged with the ZP education department on January 11, 2013. Though the inquiry order came on January 19, inquiry officer Bhujbal is yet to submit a report of his findings.
► The hearings were taken over by the deputy director’s office. It won’t be appropriate to take over before lower authorities reach a decision
– Mahaveer Mane, Director (Edn), in his letter ordering the hearings be restored to the ZP DEO office
► I summoned them for a warning and asked them to submit all necessary documents to the ZP inquiry officer.
– Suman Shinde DY DIR education,Pune Div
► I joined recently. The earlier hearings were by the preceding DEO. I will hear these cases for the first time
– S Kurhade Dist education officer, ZP
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