Red carded over fees

2011-02-25 00:00

A MIDLANDS primary school attempted to red-card a player of an opposition school during a cricket match at the weekend, allegedly for non-payment of outstanding school fees by the player’s parents.

Cowan House Co-educational Preparatory School headmaster Mark Emerson allegedly tried to bar a player, who is a former pupil of his school and now attends Clifton Preparatory School in Nottingham Road, from the match held at Cowan House on Saturday because the young cricketer’s parents have not settled outstanding fees since moving to Clifton.

The name of the pupil is known to The Witness and will not be revealed to protect the pupil’s identity. The pupil was expelled from Cowan House.

The Witness understands that the parents of the pupil have defaulted on paying school fees in at least three other primary schools in the midlands, including Cowan House.

According to a parent who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonimity because the parent’s children attend one of the schools, the match was allegedly delayed by a few minutes because of the incident. The parent alleged that there was a lawyer present while the matter of the child’s playing was being discussed.

However, Cowan House denied that the school attempted to bar the young cricketer from playing, saying the matter was discussed discreetly on the sidelines among both the coaches of the schools and two parents from each of the schools.

Attorney Mike Williams of Morris Fuller Walden and Williams Inc. in Durban, representing Cowan House, said Emerson registered his objection as a matter of principle to the inclusion of a player in the team in breach of the Southern African Heads of Independent Schools Association (Sahisa ) rules, that a member school may not enrol a pupil before outstanding fees have been settled or arrangements have been made for payment that are acceptable to the previous school.

He said that it is correct that there are outstanding fees due to Cowan House and legal proceedings have been instituted for the recovery of the outstanding fees. Williams said it is factually incorrect that Emerson tried to “have the player not play in the match” and said the objection was lodged before the match was played.

“The manner in which he registered his objection was entirely appropriate without involving the pupil concerned in any way,” he said.

Cowan House learnt during the week preceding the match that the pupil may possibly play on Saturday and conveyed their view that this would be in breach of the Sahisa rules, said Williams.

“After discussions between the coaches, Cowan House were under the impression that the pupil would not be playing.

“On the Saturday when the pupil arrived at Cowan House to play the match, Mr Emerson immediately endeavoured unsuccessfully to contact [Mr Brendan Brady, Clifton headmaster] on his cellphone. Mr Emerson therefore had no alternative but to lodge the objection then to afford Clifton the opportunity to decide how to respond prior to the game commencing,” said Williams.

When asked about the intent of the objection, Williams said it was to convey to Clifton that by allowing the pupil to play, they were doing so in breach of the Sahisa rules.

Emerson said the lawyer present on the sidelines is a parent whose child attends Cowan House.

Williams said: “In truth the pupil was expelled after incidents of theft and unacceptable aggressive physical behaviour, not only to fellow pupils, but also to members of staff”.

He said it is not only factually incorrect to state that the pupil was expelled for non-payment of fees by his parents, but also innuendo that the pupil is being punished for the actions of his parents without full and proper explanation of the circumstances. This, he added, is grossly misleading and defamatory of Cowan House.

Cowan House went on to win the match by five wickets and the cricketer narrowly missed scoring a half-century by a few runs. The parent claimed that the pupil was eventually barred from bowling, which the parent claimed would have won Clifton the match.

Brady said the coach decided not to let the young lad bowl because he was injured. He said that the coach played the young cricketer knowing that he had an injury.

Clifton said it is a signatory to the Sahisa code of ethical practice relating to outstanding fees which, in summary, is to the effect that the receiving school should not accept a pupil from a referring school unless there is a confirmation from the referring school that the pupil’s fees are paid up. Clifton received the child from Kings school.

When asked why Clifton accepted the pupil, the school said it was approached to take the boy by Kings School. Clifton accepted the boy and when the outstanding fees were raised Kings said they had resolved the question of outstanding fees, said the school.

“Clifton took the child in the interests of the child and as a development child.

“There was an arrangement between Clifton and Kings School,” the school said.

Attempts to get comment from the pupil’s parents and Kings School were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

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