As a first step towards implementing the Tamil Nadu Information Commission’s order to bring educational institutions, including private schools, under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Directorate of School Education has instructed District Education Officers (DEOs) to ensure that all schools disclose on their websites criminal cases pending against members of their management, principal, teaching/non-teaching staff, drivers and attenders of vehicles.

In a recent order, State Information Commissioner S. Muthuraj, while passing orders on a petition, directed that all private schools availing themselves of benefits from the government by way of funds, grants or subsidies, either directly or indirectly, were public authorities and were bound to disclose all information that were of public importance under the RTI Act. With incidents of child abuse, some reported in educational institutions, on the rise, parents and public at large had a legitimate right to know about the credentials of persons who managed the institutions.

“The Commission is bound to issue a direction to the schools to furnish the steps/measures taken by the management for the safety of the children…the parents have a right to know about the management, correspondents and all other teaching and non-teaching staff of the school, drivers of vehicles, and attenders of the school in which their children are being admitted,” Mr. Muthuraj said.

Complying with the order, the Directorate of School Education has written to all DEOs to coordinate with the District Crime Records Bureau to get details of criminal cases pending against the management and staff of the schools. Since the matter involved the safety of children, Chief Education Officers were told to monitor the implementation of the order, official sources said.

In a related communication, the Additional Director-General of Police, State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), has written to all Commissioners/Superintendents of Police to provide relevant data to School Education Department officials in compliance with the Tamil Nadu Information Commission’s order.

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