Student safety: Parents object to disclaimer forms for school excursions

Schools justify practice; parents claim they are shirking responsibility

Even as schools across the city prepare to take students on excursions and educational trips, parents have objected to the disclaimer forms they are made to sign. A group of parents has written to the education department to direct schools to scrap these disclaimer forms, which they claim absolve schools of any damage, injury, accident and loss of property or life during the excursion.

Arundhati Chavan, president, Parents Teachers' Association United Forum, said, "School managements cannot get such forms signed by parents and shirk responsibility. Many a time, students are so eager to go on school excursions that parents are forced to sign the forms. We have taken up the issue with schools several times. However, they continue to issue disclaimer forms. We will take up the issue with the school education minister, if necessary."

Avinash Rajgir, a parent, said, "I had written to the deputy director of school education, Mumbai, last year, seeking intervention. I received a reply from them this year, saying they will take action against such schools. However, schools are getting disclaimers signed even now. I am consulting a lawyer and planning to move court."

Following Rajgir's complaint, the deputy director of school education's office informed him that an inquiry had been initiated in the matter. Rajgir received another letter from the deputy director's office in June, which was addressed to the education inspectors of south, north and west regions, instructing them to take necessary action in case schools are at fault. However, no action has been taken since.

Parents say school authorities must ensure the safety of their students. Namitabh Kothari, parent of a student of Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya in Malad said, "They cannot shirk responsibility. It is their duty to ensure safety of every student. Schools must mention in their disclaimer that they take responsibility of every child during the excursion and will ensure their safety."

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