Problems return to Alexandria High School

SGB conflict with education department

AGGRIEVED parents and members of the Alexandria High School governing body (SGB) have accused the district education office of unlawful interventions at the school.

CHARLES METELERKAMP

The aggrieved parents sent a letter outlining their complaints to the provincial education department earlier this month but have received no response. They provided the letter to Talk of the Town last week.

On behalf of the parents, former councillor Charles Metelerkamp said he hoped TotT’s enquiries would yield a response. He was one of six signatories to the letter.

The letter stated that acting district director for the Grahamstown district office, Perseverance Futshane, had informed a meeting of the SGB and parents at Alexandria High School on January 26 that she was dissolving the SGB because it was “dysfunctional”.

“The SGB never received any notice from the HOD [head of department of the provincial education department] informing the SGB of his or her intention to dissolve the SGB,” the aggrieved parents stated in the letter.

An independent structure was established at that meeting to deal with applications for the vacant principal post and another non-educator post.

Metelerkamp said the parent component of the SGB  was removed, which included himself, N Wentzel, O van Rooyen, P Jokani, D Coto, and in absentia, R Jacobs and a Miss Bam. But then Jokani and Coto were reinstated and elected with three other parents to the independent structure.

“I informed the deputy chairperson, Mr Jokani, that Ms Futshane did not have any powers to dissolve the SGB. Only the HOD can withdraw the functions of the SGB,” Metelerkamp said.

He referred to the South African Schools Act (SASA), section 22, which requires that the HOD informs the SGB of his/her intention to invoke section 22, and gives the SGB a reasonable opportunity to make representations.

Metelerkamp said he also raised concerns at the meeting that people who are not parents of pupils at the school were participating in the meeting, but that his concerns were ignored.

Metelerkamp said the claims of the SGB being dysfunctional started when the principal post became vacant in August 2015.

He believes certain people have an interest in the post and that is why some SGB members were removed.

Applications for the post closed in April last year, but to date the school has not received the applications from the district office, Metelerkamp said.

They believe some applications were summarily discarded.

The letter continued: “The acting district director acted beyond her powers (ultra vires), preventing the SGB from carrying out its functions as contemplated in SASA 20 (i) in a legal and accountable way. This is gross misconduct (Educators Act 76 of 1998 section 18 (a) (f) (g) (dd). The department of education violated the constitutional rights of learners, staff and parents to have a principal as the person responsible for the professional management of the school.”

The aggrieved parents further said the district education office had appointed maths and science teachers at Alexandria High School without a recommendation from the SGB, also in terms of SASA section 20.

They said the teachers did not meet the dual medium Afrikaans/English requirement as they could only communicate in English.

“Afrikaans maths and science learners are being disadvantaged. Their right to quality education and to receive tuition in their official language is being compromised,” the letter said.

The parents rejected any decision taken by the independent structure which replaced the SGB as illegal.

Provincial education department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima acknowledged receipt of TotT’s questions, but had not responded by the time of going to press.

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