Principal dilemma still ongoing

2008-02-16 00:00

While Muggie Liebenberg, the acting principal of Newcastle High School, is still awaiting the result of a dispute she has declared against the Education Department regarding the procedure to appoint a principal, a new principal arrived at the school on Monday.

Manuel Govender confirmed that he is the new principal, but referred inquiries regarding Liebenberg’s position to the department. Liebenberg has been the acting principal for the past three years.

She declared a dispute against the department after her name was not included in the shortlist of candidates.

Distressed parents said the department’s actions are totally unacceptable. Apparently pupils, on hearing that Govender is the new principal, jeered at him.

The school was plunged into controversy when problems arose involving the governing body, and these have now been dragging on for two years.

The two positions became vacant after the vice-chairman, R. Jugdawoo, left town and Yunis Kader no longer had a child at the school.

A parent, who wished to remain anonymous for fear that his children would be victimised, said that as far as they are concerned, Govender’s appointment was illegal, as are the actions of the governing body.

There have been allegations that the remaining members of the governing body are in cahoots with the department and will do everything possible to re-elect Kader.

As far as can be ascertained he no longer has any children at the school and can no longer rightfully serve on the governing body. Kader told Beeld he would not speak to the Afrikaans media because his exact words would not be published, only an interpretation of what he said. “I have no comment,” he said.

Concerned parents said the school has already suffered a great deal because of the untransparent actions of the governing body, which allegedly has its own political motives and agendas.

Beeld has heard that several parents, both Afrikaans-speaking and others, have taken their children out of the school because of the ongoing problems.

There was also an uproar last year when the governing body discontinued the Christian policies of the school against the wishes of the majority of parents.

The Christian Parent Initiative applied to the high court in Pietermaritzburg to have the decision set aside, but their application was rejected.

Piet Delport, legal representative at the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU), said no one from the Education Department arrived last week to hear Liebenberg’s dispute.

He said the SAOU will continue handling Liebenberg’s case and that a formal dispute through the Labour Relations Council was not excluded.

A spokesperson for the Education Department had not responded to queries at the time of going to press.

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