Schools get nod to expel pupils

2013-05-08 00:00

TWO schools in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday won a court order allowing them to expel two delinquent pupils, but in the case of at least one of them it was a hollow victory.

A former Grade 12 pupil, whom Vryheid High School had sought to expel since last March for stabbing and seriously injuring a fellow pupil during a sport event, has completed his matric and is studying at an FET college, his guardian told The Witness yesterday.

The other school that obtained an order entitling it to expel a pupil, now 12 years old, for ongoing delinquent behaviour was Northern Park Primary in Pietermaritzburg.

The boy was found guilty of serious misconduct for, among other things, displaying “a form of violent anger towards an educator and for actions and/or passing of statements that provoke racism”.

The governing bodies of the two schools said in court papers that the pupils had been found guilty during internal disciplinary hearings after it was recommended that they be expelled.

The expulsions have to be endorsed by the head of Basic Education in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi.

Brett Kearns, chairperson of the governing body of Northern Park Primary, and Johannes Coetzer, chairperson of Vryheid High School’s governing body, said Sishi decided not to expel the pupils.

He had also failed to impose suitable alternative sanctions after consultations with the schools and failed to refer the matters back to the schools to impose an alternative sanction under their code of conduct as required by the SA Schools Act.

According to them, Sishi did not provide any reasons for his decision.

He also did not respond to subsequent letters.

Kearns said because of this the Northern Park Primary pupupil was still at school.

All previous forms of punishment, including detention, additional homework and suspension, had failed.

“Not only does this create uncertainty as far as governance of the school is concerned, but also among the staff and fellow pupils at the school. It further creates a situation where a pupil may consider himself to be untouchable,” he said.

Kearns said it appeared Sishi had taken a decision not to endorse expulsions in public schools at all, regardless of the merits of the recommendation.

He suggested that such an attitude would “cause chaos” in the education system, would “breed a culture of delinquent learners, place an unbearable amount of stress and tension on educators and will jeopardise the safety of other learners”.

In the incident at Vryheid High School, a Grade 12 pupil admitted that he stabbed a school-mate on March 17 last year, but claimed to have been the victim of bullying.

According to court papers, a confrontation took place the previous day between the pupils involving “pushing and shoving”.

The pupil concerned threatened to “get” the other and said he would kill him.

The next day he attacked him with a knife, stabbing him in the back near his left shoulder at a sport event, damaging the tendons and muscles of his left arm. The victim was hospitalised for three days.

The assailant’s guardian told The Witness yesterday the boy had learnt his lesson, had undergone extensive counselling and was “now a good boy”.

She said she was not happy with the way the incident was handled by the school and felt her son had been punished “too much”.

Afterwards, he was isolated from other pupils and taught alone in an office.

He was also criminally charged and convicted and was sentenced to correctional supervision.

Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department would comment after discussing the matter with Dr Sishi, who was not available for comment yesterday.


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