In what parents are terming as ‘unfair’, the management of the city’s largest school for mentally-challenged kids has asked 31 ‘non-productive’ students to move out. These kids are now over 25 years of age, and the school wants the parents to find them a new place.According to the notice issued by the management of Sewri-based Jai Vakeel school, run by the Research Society for the Care, Treatment and Training of Children in Need of Special Care, parents have been given time till February 15 to accept the management’s decision. If they fail to do so, the kids will be ousted by this April, it said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If we comply with it, our kids will be given a one-year extension. If we don’t, we will have to take them back in April itself. We can’t afford other big schools for kids of special needs. There are many other kids over 25, but they have issued notices to only 31,” said Dattatray Salekar, whose visually and speech impaired son Vipul (25) has been in the school for over 20 years.”This is really unfair. The management must hold a meeting with the affected parents. No school will accept these kids for vocational training now. We will take up the issue with the management,” said Shiv Sena corporator Anil Trimbakkar.Parents said that the school has claimed that their kids are non-productive. “The government rules have been in place for long. Why have the notices been issued only now? Many parents have bought homes next to the school. Where will they go now,” said Manali Prabhakar, whose son Anand (21) studies at the school.Experts feel that the school must give more time to the parents to find alternate arrangements. “This is the problem with such schools all over the state. Once schooling is over, there are no enough centres for vocational training. The government rules say that kids have to be taken away after 18. However, in this case, the school must ensure that the kids have an alternate place to continue vocational training,” said Dattaram Fonde, an expert who runs several schools for the mentally-challenged.The school has over 600 students. Kids here are mainly involved in making paper bags, dusters, incense sticks, and weaving.When contacted, the school management claimed that they had given parents enough time. “We have been speaking to the parents for over a year. We issued the letters since we had no option left. We have given these kids the best possible schooling and vocational training. Now, there are many on the waiting list. It will be really unfair if we deny them a chance,” said Archana Chandra, administrative director.Chandra urged the parents to take the initiative to set up a facility for such kids. “The kids are profoundly challenged. The parents must come up with a facility and we are ready to support them in every way. In fact, the government must set up more vocational training centres. That is the only long-term solution,” Chandra added.Principal Meghana Vipradas too said the school was ready to support the parents. “The kids are non-productive. We have suggested some alternate training centres to them. Parents must come together and make sure the kids are gainfully occupied,” Vipradas said.In September last, the Bombay High Court had directed that all such kids be allowed to study till they turn 18. The HC also directed the state to release long-pending funds for such schools, which come under the social justice department led by BJP minister Rajkumar Badole.
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