Private school fined over Rs 12 lakh for raising fee beyond state norms

The District Education Officer (DEO) of Rajkot has imposed a fine of over Rs 12 lakh on a private primary school and ordered it to refund around Rs 70 lakh, which it had collected from the parents, in an alleged violation of fee norms in the state.

The office of the DEO had on Friday issued a notice in this regard to Atmiya Shishu Mandir, located on Kalavad Road. The school is run by Sarvodaya Kelavani Samaj. The notice directed the school authorities to deposit Rs 12.88 lakh, with the government treasury within 30 days. It also directed the authorities to refund the Rs 70 lakh to the parents of around 1,300 students of English and Gujarati-medium sections of the school.

The DEO has further directed the school to furnish details of refunds to his office, by means of a bank account statement, within 10 days of the deadline for repayment.

"Disregarding the government guidelines, the school had increased its fee manifolds this year. For example, annual fee for Class I was raised to Rs 15,000 from Rs 11,000. According to the prevalent norms, a school can effect a maximum rise of 10 per cent of its fee in a year," DEO Jivabhai Visiya said on Sunday.

The DEO said that the school had also violated the norms in the last academic session by increasing the fee, and that his office had received a barrage of complaints from parents in this regard.

"The matter was taken up by the state director of primary education. However, the school kept on seeking more time to provide details to justify the hike. But in the interest of students and parents, we have issued orders of refund and fine," said Visiya.

"If the school does not respond in due time, we shall be forced to de-recognise the school in the coming days," the DEO warned.

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