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Chaos on first day of school

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The SGB, who claim to only have the best interests of the pupils at heart, have accused the administrator of a lack of vision and of being an “instigator”

THE FIRST day of school started in chaos at Homevale High School as pupils were dismissed in the morning by members of the school governing body (SGB), who have objected to the appointment of the new school administrator and principal.

The police were called to the school to monitor the situation as pupils left for home.

The SGB, who claim to only have the best interests of the pupils at heart, have accused the administrator of a lack of vision and of being an “instigator”.

They have called on the Northern Cape Department of Education to stop intervening in the appointment of the school principal, after they accused it of failing to appoint the right person in the past.

According to the SGB, one of the first things the new principal did on his first day of school was to call a staff meeting, requesting teachers to sign a vote of no confidence in the SGB.

“He was supposed to address the staff and us on the planning for the year, which was supposed to have been done last year, but was not because he was unavailable,” said the chairperson of the SGB, Sonia Faywers.

She pointed out that the school was still short of the required number of teachers but added that this was not being addressed as the department was too involved in the process of appointing a principal.

“We requested that the department appoint a principal who is neutral and has the capacity to run the school properly. We have already had four different people last year who could not deliver,” added Faywers.

The SGB said that school was nothing more than a “playground”, with a new principal appointed every term, leading to non-performance by the pupils.

Last year parents locked the school gates after teachers went on a go-slow and pupils skipped school in protest of the newly-appointed principal, who they claimed was unqualified.

According to the SGB, the department continued to put the education of their children in jeopardy by imposing “incompetent” principals on them.

In 2018, a principal was allegedly deployed from the Department of Correctional Services and worked for only three months before being dismissed due to incompetence.

While he was still appealing his case, and still on the department’s payroll, the then deputy principal took over as acting principal. He was later deployed to Roodepan Primary School for “operational reasons”, and another acting principal was appointed.

“We have engaged with the department on several occasions, as well as with the HOD, Tshepo Pharasi, and he agreed to be on the same page as us,” said Faywers.

“All we want is a capable principal to run the school. Not someone who has been sent by the department to fulfil an agenda. We also don’t want someone who is here to create division among the staff and the SGB.”

The SGB said that the school continued to underperform and had failed to improve the pass rate, placing the blame for the poor performance on the department.

According to the SGB members, all 92 Grade 9 pupils were progressed last year.

They added that the school, which has 1 017 pupils, was short of six teachers.

“If the department wants to do better it can return our former acting principal, Bertie Powers, as he was deployed to Roodepan High School after being falsely accused of the instability at the school,” stated Faywers.

“We are also deeply disappointed and saddened that we do not get the opportunity of being allocated an administrator who is able to deal with the issues of high absenteeism, drug abuse, discipline and violence among pupils and teachers.

“Is that too much to ask?”

Faywers said that the SGB planned to obtain legal advice after the department threatened to take action against the members.

“The school will continue as normal tomorrow after all role-players met to plan a way forward for the 2020 school year,” Faywers added.

Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said in response yesterday that the situation at Homevale High School had been coming on for some time now.

“Last year, the school governing body approached the MEC for Education, Mac Jack, requesting his intervention in the school affairs of Homevale High School. One of the issues related to the appointment of an administrator for this school, to turn around the situation as this school is classified as an underperforming school.”

Van der Merwe said that an administrator was appointed by the department, “and now they (the SGB) are claiming that they don’t want the administrator”.

“At this stage it is unclear why the SGB would take such a stance on the matter, denying the administrator an opportunity to prove himself and denying the children their right to an education.

“We are of the view that it is very selfish of the SGB to put their personal needs above that of the pupils and the school. If the SGB fails to fulfil and execute their responsibility and bring about stability at the school, we will be left with no choice but to disband the SGB and withdraw all their powers.

“We have been reliably informed that the SGB chairperson closed the school yesterday by indicating to the pupils that the school was dismissed. We have requested our district office to investigate the matter.”