CHENNAI: A large group of angry, protesting parents gathered at the St John’s Senior Secondary School in Mandaveli on Wednesday demanding an explanation from the school management regarding increase in fees, donations, corporal punishment, and inconvenient shift timings.
The pent-up frustration of parents was sparked after the school declared a holiday on Tuesday, following a late-night party the previous day. While the school correspondent Nalini Wilson claimed that SMSes about the holiday were sent late on Monday night, more than 100 parents said they did not receive any information. The problem died down with parents coming together to speak about issues of alleged mismanagement. But the patience of parents, who were waiting since 7 30 AM, was broken by the time Wilson appeared at around 10 AM, and the ensuing uproar had policemen stepping in to control the crowd.
As parents raised the issues, Wilson denied them saying “We are not taking any unnecessary money from you.” The parents, however, insisted that besides donation, the school has decided to change to CBSE-I curriculum from next year, for which the fees was increased from `4,500 to `20,000 per term. “If we say we don’t want this curriculum, they ask us to change to the afternoon shift. Parents who want to switch their students to the morning shift are also asked to pay donation,” said Srimathi, a parent. After repeated attempts to pacify the crowd, Wilson asked the parents to form a small group and come with a list of petitions. Initially confrontational, she later agreed to take action about the shift timings if a representation was made by all parents. She also assured the parents that the fee increase would not be more than 10 or 15 per cent. The initial issue of school holiday was almost forgotten in the melee, although when the topic was brought up, the correspondent insisted that it was ‘Appa Amma Day’ celebration which also happened to be her birthday. She further insisted that they began sending SMSes about the school holiday at around 9PM. “Some of the messages may not have reached because of technical errors,” Wilson said.
Wilson claimed there was no incident of corporal punishment in the school, but parents alleged that students were being beaten.