School at loggerheads over principal

ORIELLE BERRY

About 120 parents and members of the school governing body (SGB) of the Western Cape Sport School in Kuils River called a meeting on Sunday afternoon, April 10, at the school hall to discuss grievances with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) over its “lack of consulting with the school governing body in the appointment of interim principal Kurt Anthony and his subsequent re-appointment when his contract ended”.

The ructions started at the school on Tuesday April 5 after the SGB tried to lock out Mr Anthony last week. SGB chairman James Ketelo said they had resorted to this after complaints to education officials “did not receive any attention”.

The SGB had also sent a letter of complaint to Education MEC Debbie Schäfer at the end of March.

Mr Ketelo said SGB members were “very unhappy” when they found the education department had extended the principal’s contract despite the complaints.

Included in issues raised were alleged “non-performance” by the principal and an “absence of trust between him and the school community”. According to Mr Ketelo, this included a lack of transparency about school finances.

In its media statement, the SGB said: “The WCED must consult the school governing body of the school on all appointments, as this affects the running of the school and quality of education offered to our children.

“Why does Mr Anthony enjoy such favour when you fail to hear the pleas of parents, learners, educators and the school governing body? Are there things you are not telling us?”

The statement continued, “The Western Cape Sport School community members are angry! We will not take this blatant disrespect by the education department lightly. We will not accept what is dumped on us.

“If you fail to listen to grievances of the parents and SGB, show consideration for the educators… We are parents first and only want what is best for our children… Kurt Anthony must fall!”

Following the meeting, the governing body issued a further statement, saying Western Cape Education Districts’ chief director Clifton Frolick had apologised to parents for “allowing matters at the Western Cape Sport School to deteriorate to the point where the school governors had to resort to demonstrations to get their attention”.

The statement continues, saying: “Mr Frolick claims that despite the SGB having had interactions with the Metro East Education District since July 2015 until April 2016 (19 interactions to be precise), he bears no knowledge of the happenings at the Western Cape Sport School… We, the school governing body, welcome Mr Frolick’s intervention, but sadly it comes at a time when the SGB, parents, educators and learners are saying enough.

“We state emphatically that we do not want Mr Anthony at the school. He must be removed with immediate effect, pending the outcome of your investigation.”

Jessica Shelver, Ms Schafer’s spokewoman, told Northern News, “Our chief director in charge of districts and the district director (Mr Frolick) met parents and members of the school governing body on Sunday. The SGB submitted letters complaining about management at the school.”

Ms Shelver said the meeting agreed to the appointment of a committee that would investigate all of the complaints.

“The committee will report to the head of department with recommendations on how to deal with the complaints.

“The department has noted the concerns of the SGB regarding the appointment of the principal, and will engage all concerned further on the issue.

“The consensus at the meeting was that teaching and learning should continue as normal,” she said, adding, schooling continued as normal this morning (Monday April 11).

Northern News called Mr Anthony’s cellphone several times and left messages for him but at the time of going to press he was not available.