School kept parents in dark

2016-07-26 10:34


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Pietermaritzburg - Leaked documents from a Pietermaritzburg school besieged by sexual abuse claims reveal a ploy to keep parents in the dark.

The Witness can reveal that management at the prominent school — where a guidance counsellor stands accused of two counts of rape and two of sexual abuse thus far — decided that the school would only release a statement to parents if the allegations reached the media.

This is according to the minutes of an emergency meeting of the School Governing Body (SGB) and management on the afternoon of June 24, which was held just hours after the counsellor was arrested.

According to the minutes, leaked to The Witness from a source close to the school, the school’s lawyer advised management to prepare a press release.

The release would confirm that allegations were made by a pupil at the school; the accused member of staff was addressed and thereafter suspended; and the matter was subsequently reported to the Department of Education (DOE) and to the police.

However, it was then agreed, according to the minutes, that “if” the “press do get hold of this”, then “[the principal] should be advised as soon as possible so he can draft something simple for the D6 (a communication system used by schools) as the school will owe the parents an explanation”.

According to the source who leaked the document, the first communication between the school and parents on the D6 platform was issued on June 28, a day after The Witness broke the story.

The SGB chairperson said in an e-mail yesterday that the minutes The Witness was quoting from were not in his possession and were still in draft form pending approval by the SGB.

The chairperson said he could therefore not comment further. However, he did not deny or dispute the veracity of the allegations.

The Witness yesterday reported that four teachers from the school who allegedly showed support for the counsellor in court were asked by management to “stay away” from the school pending the outcome of an internal investigation into their conduct.

It still remains unclear if the teachers were suspended, but the SGB chairperson said yesterday the management had “requested” that the teachers stay away from school “for their own safety” after parents at a meeting last week demanded the teachers be removed.

“We have locum teachers appointed to teach their classes in the interim,” the SGB chairman said.

The 32-year-old counsellor was arrested on June 24, after allegations surfaced of him raping two pupils. After more children came forward, two more charges were added and a Pietermaritzburg magistrate denied him bail on July 18.

He will appear in court again next month.

* The Witness is not naming the counsellor or school to protect the identities of his alleged victims.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  school counsellor  |  sexual abuse

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