Scottsville School parents in disbelief Parents’ comments

2016-07-13 06:00
PHOTO: Ian Carbutt MEC for KZN Education Mthandeni Dlungwane attended the bail hearing of the school guidance counsellor charged with the alleged rape of pupils at the magistrate’s court last week.

PHOTO: Ian Carbutt MEC for KZN Education Mthandeni Dlungwane attended the bail hearing of the school guidance counsellor charged with the alleged rape of pupils at the magistrate’s court last week.

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PARENTS of pupils at Scottsville School, which has been rocked by allegations of the rape of pupils by a school counsellor, are reluctant to come forward in support of parents­ whose children are the alleged victims for fear of victimisation.

Some parents spoke to Maritzburg­ Fever on condition of anonymity and reassurance that their identities would not be revealed, to express their concern and disappointment with the school and its management regarding the alleged incident.

“It is truly a sick world that we live in. We entrust our children into the care of teachers every day of the week for most of the year. It’s frightening to think that we are now forced to be suspicious of just about everyone­ our precious children interact with. It is sickening.

“As parents of two innocent children, who could have easily been victims of this despicable man, we feel very betrayed by the school and the principal. The question is now how can we continue sending them to school and be assured of their safety and well being.

“As parents, we want to speak out and take a stand, but are too afraid to do so. Another question that plagues us is whether our children will be victimised at the school if we do. [There are] too many questions and too few answers. We feel the school has a lot to answer for and has a long way to go in rebuilding the trust of parents, children and the public,” said a mother.

Another mother said that although her son has not received any counselling or had any interaction with the guidance counsellor, it is still a stressful situation for all.

“Firstly, the fact that some of the teachers at Scottsville are in support of the accused is shocking. I know that everybody has people in their corner, but as a teacher to clearly draw a line between the accused and the children is not right. If they are supporting him that means they do not care about the well being and safety of our children,” she said.

She said the manner in which the issue was handled by the principal was “appalling”.

“The letter that was released [to parents] on the D6 (an internal communicator between parents and the school) on 28 June was very unprofessional. “There were no contact options available for us as parents. They did not state what their plan going forward was and how they would be notifying parents of the involved children.

“Although this was all done in due course, the fact that we had nobody to turn to for answers was stressful and frustrating. There was no help at the school as the only answer you would get was that the principal was on holiday. My heart breaks for the children and parents involved. They are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.”

“I’m very upset that the principal did nothing after being warned by many teachers on different occasions.

“Can’t believe that this has happened at Scottsville School.”

“I have a daughter in Grade 6 at the school. I feel such sorrow for all those kids who were harmed and I hope for once that justice will be served.”

“I am disappointed at the manner in which the school has handled this case. The parents were kept in the dark up until the last moment.

“We should have been informed so that we could have communicated with our children to find out if they were affected as well.

“It also makes it difficult to get answers with the school being closed. We send our children to school every day under the impression that they are in a safe environment and to have something like this happen, it’s disappointing and upsetting.

“I want to also know if proper background checks and protocol was followed when hiring the accused.”

EDUCATION MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane questioned the principal as to why it took so long for the allegations to be reported to the department, as the incident occurred on 3 June and was only reported to the SGB on 20 June after a criminal case was opened by one of the parents whose child was affected. Thereafter, the department was notified.

The principal had no response as to why the incident was not reported but said that he thought he had allayed the concerns of the parents by speaking to the counsellor and advising him to “stop playing the touching games, leave his curtains open and his door ajar” while counselling children.

During a meeting last week with the school governing body, school management and a host of officials, the principal admitted that he had not verified the qualifications and registration of the counsellor as it came to light after the allegations were made that the counsellor is not registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Once the SGB was made aware, they met twice in a space of four days to deal with the issue. Upon discovering that the counsellor was not registered, which meant his contract with the school was illegal, the SGB called for the counsellor to be dismissed.

Dlungwane applauded the quick response by the SGB to dismiss the teacher but expressed his unhappiness and shock at the support shown in favour of the counsellor by other teachers at the school who, instead of standing with the parents and pupils, stood behind the counsellor when he appeared in court last week.

The MEC said that an allegation was enough to report it to the department.

“This is very serious. If there is such an allegation there is a reason to be worried. Now it is coming out that a number of children are coming forward with the same allegations and these things are happening in the presence of others. Ultimately we are responsible for the safety of the children,” he said.

Dlungwane assured the parents, during a separate meeting with them, that they have the full support of the department.

“Whatever happens we are standing by you in support for our pupils and parents. For us there is enough to go on with just an allegation and some decisions have to be taken without delays,” he said.

Parents were angered that they were not called into school and told about the situation but rather found out about it in a “general letter”.

“Why were we not informed the minute there was such an accusation?” questioned a mother.

Parents questioned why there was no yearly check done on teachers and went of to express their concern about all the other teachers at the school.

“How do we know that the other teachers or the principal didn’t suspect anything? Every single child that has been in contact with him in the time that he has been at the school needs to be made aware of the allegations and questioned,” a parent said.

“I came to this school and I insisted that my kids come here because it’s such a great school, it’s not anymore,” a tearful mother said.

The counsellor’s next court appearance is Monday, 18 July.

‘The fact
that some of
the teachers at
Scottsville [School] are in support of the
accused is shocking’


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