Sikh students locked out of Vancouver school

As most British Columbian students returned to school Tuesday, children at one South Vancouver elementary school were fa...

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As most British Columbian students returned to school Tuesday, children at one South Vancouver elementary school were faced with an unexpected lockout.

Parents whose children were enrolled at Guru Nanak Elementary School, a private Sikh school, were shocked to find a padlock on the front gate when they dropped their children off this morning.

For five years, the school was run by the Khalsa Diwan Society but on Monday night temple executive members suddenly voted to close the school down.

The shutdown affects 73 students.

Parent Sukh Gusal waited outside the facility with his daughter Hargunh for three hours waiting for answers.

Gusal said Hargunh, who is entering Grade 4, had spent several days preparing for school and was disappointed that she couldn't get in.

"She was excited to meet her teacher. When we came we saw everything was locked up. All the parents are frustrated," he said.

Amar Singh Sandhu believes the decision to shut down the school has to do with money.

News1 (50K)"I think they want a bigger income source than they have now, which is wrong, because the school shouldn't be shut down," Sandhu said.

"The original founders of the society really promoted education."

Led by Principal Devinder Maan, many of the parents marched into the temple to speak to the society president, Kashmir Dhaliwal.

Dhaliwal said the committee locked the building because the lease expired in July.

He insisted that all of the parents were notified about the pending closure in 2009, an assertion that was answered with shouts of "no, no, no," from protesting parents.

"They already have the notice that lease has expired," Dhaliwal said, adding that all the parents had been served with written notices.

A memo from the Khalsa Society dated Sept. 16, 2009, does outline the July lease expiry, although it's unclear if the notice was received by parents.

When asked where the locked-out students would go to school, society Secretary Ranjit Hayere said he is not responsible for the parents or children.

"It is their problem. It is up to the parents and principal to tell them where to go," he said.

"And if I am their position I would have arranged for my kid to go somewhere."

The school, which offers specialized Sikh studies alongside traditional curriculum, was approved by the province to operate until at least 2014.

The B.C. Education Ministry says Guru Nanak Elementary School receives 50 per cent of its funding from the government.

 

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