Court says school may suspend pupil over unpaid fees

2018-06-15 16:59

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The parents of a pupil who was suspended over unpaid school fees have failed to have the decision set aside because of a contract signed with the school.

They instructed advocate Ashleigh Jennings to bring an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Thursday, but the case was dismissed by Judge Rashid Vahed in chambers.

The Witness was told the decision was based on a clause in the contract stating that if the (parents’) account was not paid in full, the child could be suspended from all school activities.

The Grade 8 pupil at the Chistlehurst Academics and Arts School, in Camps Drift, was not allowed to write her second exam paper on Thursday, prompting the application.

Her father said in court papers that the school’s actions were based on arrears amounting to one-and-a-half months of school fees, which is being “balanced against a child’s Grade 8 mid-year exams that is pivotal, especially in her first year of high school”.

He said that on May 24, he received a third reminder that R5 208 was owed on his daughter’s school fees. He spoke to the school’s financial officer and arranged to pay R1 000 on May 29.

The father said the school’s annual fees are payable over 11 months.

His wife — the teenager’s stepmother — had received an SMS from the school on May 28, saying no payment was made for school fees and that if the child came to school the next day, she “will be sitting in the office”.

He added that he paid the R1 000 the next day in terms of his undertaking to the school.

On June 1 he was told by the school that if the full outstanding amount of R4 208 was not paid by June 4, the child would be suspended and deprived of writing the mid-term examinations.

He informed the school he was unable to pay the amount in full due to a cash-flow problem and would rectify the matter as soon as possible. He said he then tried to come up with the money.

The father added that when he took her to school on Tuesday, he was “shocked” that she was prevented from writing her first exam. He was told to come back in two days.

When he went to the school on Thursday he was told his daughter could not write the second examination, which was set down for Thursday, until the arrears were paid in full.

The father said that the child’s fundamental rights envisaged in the Constitution have been violated. The school’s “action is drastic to the extreme and has repercussions on the minor child”.

He added the school is displaying bullying tactics which is prejudicing the child’s need in favour of its commercial needs.

“The suspension and denial of the right to write her examination will affect her future academic career.”

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court case
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