Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke: Principal, teacher facing suspension amid probe - source

2019-01-16 16:26
The entrance to Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke. (Deon Raath)

The entrance to Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke. (Deon Raath)

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Another teacher and the principal at the Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the North West are reportedly also facing suspension.

The two were allegedly implicated after a photograph showing four black Grade R children sitting at a separate table from white children went viral on social media.

A source in the provincial Department of Education told News24 that the school principal and the teacher who allegedly separated the children based on their race would be suspended soon.

The source said the latest development was a result of preliminary investigations.

When asked about it, North West Education MEC Sello Lehari promised that the identity of the two affected individuals would be revealed at a briefing on Thursday afternoon.

MEC supports Barkhuizen's suspension

Last week, school teacher Elana Barkhuizen was suspended. She took and circulated the controversial picture.

Lehari said he stood firm on his decision to support the school governing body's (SBG) suspension of Barkhuizen. 

Barkhuizen, supported by trade union Solidarity, has since threatened to take legal action, claiming her suspension is illegal. 

The school has since initiated two separate investigations into racism allegations and another one against the teacher who allegedly split the pupils.

READ: STATEMENT: 'Do not be sorry for me – I will not surrender' – Schweizer-Reneke teacher

Lehari said the classroom where the incident happened didn’t belong to Barkhuizen, and he wanted to know what she was doing there when the picture was taken.

He said the department was not intimidated by Solidarity’s court threats.

"The reasons why I supported the SGB to suspend the teacher (Barkhuizen) will also be revealed. If the teacher was suspended lawfully or unlawfully, I am still supporting the SGB’s decision. The case is currently in progress and I can’t disclose everything now," he said.

Investigations

The MEC promised that investigations into why the pupils were separated would be completed next week. He added that other racism investigations underway in the province would be concluded in six months.

"I saw no need to consult with the department’s legal team when I took the decision to support the SGB. The identity of the two people who are implicated in the investigations will be revealed tomorrow (Thursday). Everyone who is aligned with the allegations will be dealt with.

"I have met with political party leaders in the area and they have assured me that learning will not be disrupted, and normal schooling will take place from Friday. Police will be monitoring the school and will ensure that no one is intimidated or threatened," he said.

Lehari promised to provide counselling to all pupils and their parents who felt violated.

The department has involved officials from the labour department to also assist in their investigations.

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Read more on:    sello lehari  |  mahikeng  |  education  |  discrimination
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