The circular does not mention on students attending schools and colleges, but later the education department clarified that they must focus on 'home schooling' Credit: Representational image

Kolkata: Authorities of two premier private schools in the city on Thursday announced closure of the institutions because of an agitation by a section of guardians on the issue of payment of school fee arrears.

A spokesperson for the educational institutes – G D Birla Centre for Education and Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School – told PTI the decision was prompted by concerns over the safety and protection of students and teachers on account of the agitation at the institutions .

However, Rajib Ghosh, spokesperson of G D Birla Guardians Forum, blamed the school management for creating the stalemate to deflect attention from their “legitimate grievance against the school management which he claimed had not distributed annual report cards or given promotions to a section of students despite payment of fees.

The new school session began on April 4.

“There was no demonstration, no disruption of academic activities on our part. As our children were unfairly deprived of annual report cards and promotion despite payment of a certain amount of fees as directed by the court, we stood near the school gate. This is blackmailing tactics by the school amounting to playing with the future of thousands of students,” Ghosh claimed.

Students from lower infant to classes 11-12 were affected by the developments, he said.

The G D Birla and Ashok Hall spokesperson said “while we had no problem with the payment of outstanding fees of 2019-20 as directed by the court, some of the guardians even refused to pay that amount and falsely claimed that they had cleared the fees despite having paid only a fraction of it in a haphazard manner .

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed that none of the 145 schools before it in connection with petitions regarding fees of the institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic will deny promotion to any student to the next session or withhold their report card till further orders.

Soumi Dutta, a 14-year old student of class 8 in G D Birla, was disheartened following the developments.

“After a long hiatus, in-person classes had just started. I was so excited to meet my friends and attend offline classes. But now I am very upset. Hope the issue gets resolved soon,” she said standing outside G D Birla building in Ranikuthi area of Tollygunge.

To ensure that the schools do not suffer from any deficiency of funds, the bench on Wednesday directed joint special officers, appointed by the court, to go into the dispute regarding fee liability and to come to a decision in the matter.

It directed that the joint special officers will also look into complaints of arbitrary increase in school fees during the pandemic period and take a decision in the matter with regard to fees actually payable by the guardians/ students.

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