Local school's battle to expel pupil found with dagga

2017-07-11 13:58
PMB school wanted to kick 13-year-old out for dagga, but department declined.

PMB school wanted to kick 13-year-old out for dagga, but department declined. (File)

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A primary school went to court in a bid to implement a recommendation made on September 2, 2016, to expel a 13-year-old pupil found guilty of possessing dagga on school grounds.

The suburban primary school asked the court to review the decision of the KZN Education Department’s HOD not to approve the recommended expulsion.

The MEC and KZN Education Department opposed the application but did not file any affidavits.

When the matter came before Judge Nkosinathi Chili on Monday, advocate Deon Schaup, SC, said the school’s application had become moot because the pupil has since moved to a different school.

The case was thereafter adjourned indefinitely but the court ordered the MEC and department to pay costs.

In his affidavit, the school’s governing body member, David Scholtz, said the school wanted the court to review the HOD’s decision not to expel the pupil and order him to approve the expulsion.

Alternatively in terms of the relevant procedures, he should impose an alternative sanction or send the matter to the MEC to decide on a suitable sanction.

Scholtz said the pupil was caught at school in possession of dagga on August 25 last year.

He faced two counts at a disciplinary hearing (where he was assisted by his father and pastor) of possession of dagga and smoking dagga on the school premises. After he pleaded guilty to the first count, he was found guilty and the tribunal recommended he be expelled.

The recommendation was hand delivered to the office of the senior education manager for the Pietermaritzburg central circuit on September 7 last year.

Scholtz said according to the SA Schools Act, the head of the KZN Department of Education must consider the recommendation and decide within 14 days whether or not to expel a pupil.

In this case, the HOD did not approve the recommendation. However, he did not impose an alternative sanction and the pupil continued to attend school without any sanction.

Scholtz said it was the first time in the history of the school that a pupil was found in possession of narcotics or a habit-forming drug and the transgression was considered to be extremely serious.

He said not imposing a sanction sent a message that the offence would be overlooked, which could not be tolerated.

He said the school has pupils from six- to 13-year-olds, and has a duty to other pupils and their fee-paying parents to protect them from drugs.

Scholtz said initially, as a way of protecting the other pupils and pending the decision of the HOD, the school had kept the pupil in isolation away from the other pupils.

A full-time teacher was assigned to him and he was given an opportunity to do his school work and ensure that he did not fall behind in the academic curriculum. “A carefully crafted rehabilitation programme was also set for the learner to help him,” he said.

This was in response to a plea by the pupil’s father. “The learner was not allowed to mix with other learners during break times, nor before or after school, on the school premises.”

According to Scholtz, the circuit manager of the Pietermaritzburg circuit, F.D. Dlamini, subsequently threatened the school principal with disciplinary action, alleging that these actions were “unprocedural”.

According to her, the school had to await the outcome of the process (however long that might take).

As a result the pupil went back to normal schooling on October 10 last year. Scholtz alleged that after returning to normal class, the pupil’s attitude was that he thought he had “got away” with his actions. This had set a very bad example to other pupils and would affect the enforcement of discipline on the school premises, said Scholtz.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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