Eastern Cape teacher, coach quit amid misconduct allegations

Woodridge College and Preparatory School located on a 365-acre estate between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape.
Woodridge College and Preparatory School located on a 365-acre estate between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape.
Woodridge Facebook
  • A teacher and a sport coach at Woodridge College and Preparatory School in Gqeberha have resigned the same day after the school learnt of allegations against them. 
  • According to media reports, the allegations against teacher Ryan Scheepers are of sexual nature.
  • The school said the non-teaching staff member, Ricky Gerber, resigned over an unrelated incident from 10 years ago.        

A teacher at the prestigious Woodridge College and Preparatory school in Gqeberha has resigned over allegations of misconduct against a pupil nearly 10 years ago. 

The teacher, Ryan Scheepers, resigned on 6 September along with the school's cricket and hockey coach, Ricky Gerber. 

However, the school said the allegations against the two were not the same. 

In a letter signed by the chairman of the school trust, Andrea Puggia, college headmaster Derek Bradley and preparatory headmaster Trevor von Berg, the school stated the complaint pertaining to Scheepers was brought to its attention by an Old Woodrigean who was currently undergoing psychological counselling. 

A statement signed on Thursday by the senior managers of the school said:

The resignation of the teacher followed upon allegations of misconduct purportedly perpetrated nearly a decade ago and which, if demonstrated to be true, would not only amount to a breach of the school's policies but may also amount to a breach of the Code of Professional Ethics (the code) as published in terms of the Act by the South African Council of Educators (the council).

The school did not divulge the details of the misconduct, but HeraldLive reported the allegations against Scheepers, one of the house masters at the school, were of a sexual nature. 

The school is located on a 148-hectare estate between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape. 

It offers education to around 800 boys and girls.  

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Regarding Gerber's sudden resignation, the school said: "The resignation was precipitated following upon it having come to the school's attention that an unrelated incident was alleged to have occurred [similarly nearly a decade ago] and which if demonstrated to be true may have amounted to a breach of the school's policies and may have constituted sufficiently serious misconduct to warrant the dismissal of the staff member concerned."

The letter revealed the complainant wished to remain anonymous and expressed a reluctance to participate in any investigative or disciplinary process.

The school stated the resignations of the two staffers had made an impartial internal investigation into any allegations of misconduct difficult.

The school said:

Having said that the reality is that without the complainant agreeing to be identified and in the face of the complainant's reluctance to participate meaningfully in any process an impartial investigation and the commencement of any disciplinary hearing/s as may have been warranted following upon an investigation becomes impossible.

It added the reluctance of the complainant to participate or be named, and the resignations of the staffers, have frustrated the school's ability to deal with the allegations.  

However, Scheepers, who is registered with the SA Council of Educators (SACE), would be reported to council by the school, it revealed.

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If found guilty, Scheepers faces anything from a caution or reprimand, a fine not exceeding one month's salary or, in the most extreme of circumstances, the removal of the "educator's" name from the register of "educators".

The school revealed it managed to convince the complainant to co-operate with SACE's impending investigation.  

It also announced it had engaged with the psychologist responsible for the complainant's therapy over the last number of weeks.

"We think that it is important to point out that the school is, as a matter of priority, currently engaging with consultants and reviewing its policies, processes and platforms in order to ensure that a safe and secure environment is available to anyone who may wish to report issues of misconduct whether perpetrated by a teacher, a non-teaching member of staff or a pupil and we will continue to engage with all of the school's stakeholders as that process unfolds."

Both Scheepers and Gerber could not be reached for comment.

News24 sent WhatsApp messages, text messages and made calls that went unanswered. 

Their responses will be added once received. 

Please continue sending us your stories and tip-offs. You can contact us, completely confidentially, at tips@24.com or message us on WhatsApp or Telegram on 071 382 7030.

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