Parents who sent their children to private schools signed a contract with that school as to who would be liable for the fees.
Pretoria – A judge has once again made it clear that the courts cannot force a private school to continue to teach a learner when the child’s school fees are in arrears.
Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Anneli Basson said unlike the situation with government schools, parents who sent their children to private schools signed a contract with that school as to who would be liable for the fees.
The father of a Grade 10 learner at a private school in Soshanguve – which is not named to safeguard the child if he returns – asked the court for an urgent order that the school may not give the learner the boot.
In his case, he is in arrears of more than R54 000 in school fees.
The father, a member of the SANDF, who had been placed on pension for health reasons, said his child had been at the school for the past two years.
However, he was told last month that he was no longer welcome due to the arrears in fees. Management gave the father a month in which to find another school.
The father had admitted that he entered into a contract with the school two years ago, in terms of which he conceded that as the parent, he was responsible for the school fees.
At the time, he also agreed to the clause that failure to settle any school fees owing and payable in terms of the contract would constitute a breach of the contract.
Parents are, in terms of the contract, afforded a specified time in order to remedy the breach in respect of fees. Should the parents not pay up, the school would be entitled to cancel the contract and require the learner to leave the school.
According to a fee statement from the school and handed into court, dated July 30, an amount of R54 212 was due and payable to the school. Of this amount, R33 324 had already been outstanding for 180 days.
The father asked the court to overlook his non-payment, and to order the school to take his child back.
He explained that it was not his fault, as the SANDF afforded an education bursary to the value of R42 500 to him on behalf of his child as part of his exit package due to ill-health.
It was said that the army defaulted on payments to the school, which resulted in his child being dismissed.
According to the father, the Department of Defence and Military Veterans required certain information from the school as far back as February this year, such as confirmation of the school’s bank account.
He blamed the school for not having supplied the information, and said it was aware of the bursary. But the judge said neither had the father pursued the matter further.
Judge Basson said no matter what his arrangement was with his former employer, he had signed the contract with the school as the one liable for the fees.
The father told the court that his child had a right to education.
“I have duly taken that into account. I am not persuaded that the learner has been deprived of that right. The learner is only prevented from attending this private school – which is not a government school – due to the non-payment of school fees. The applicant also did not place any facts before this court to show what steps have been taken by him to enrol the child in any other school,” Judge Basson said.
In dismissing his application, the judge said the father must take his school fees issue up with his former employer, as it had nothing to do with the private school.