Court to rule on suspension of pregnant pupils

2013-07-09 14:56

Two Free State school governing bodies will know tomorrow whether they acted lawfully in suspending two pregnant high school girls.

The Constitutional Court will deliver judgment in the dispute between the Free State education head of department (HOD) and two Welkom schools.

The matter revolves around whether the HOD was lawfully entitled to order the principals of the Welkom High School and Harmony High School not to comply with the pregnancy policies adopted by the schools’ governing bodies.

In 2008 and 2009, the governing bodies adopted policies that provide for the automatic exclusion of pregnant pupils from school.

The HOD issued instructions to the principals of the schools to readmit two pupils who had been suspended in terms of the pregnancy policies.

The schools asked the Free State High Court for an interdict preventing the HOD from interfering with the implementation of their policies.

The high court granted the interdict, which the Supreme Court of Appeal confirmed.

The high court and the Supreme Court of Appeal held the HOD did not have authority to instruct the principals to contravene duly adopted school policies. The HOD appealed the decision in the Constitutional Court.

It was argued that the governing bodies were not competent to adopt the pregnancy policies and the state had an obligation not to act unconstitutionally, therefore it was obliged to instruct the principals to protect pupils’ constitutional rights.

The governing bodies felt they were authorised to implement such policies and the HOD was not entitled to ignore them once they had been validly adopted.

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