Sutherland High School had expelled the youngster following a disciplinary hearing but the pupil took on the school and the Gauteng Department of Education in a bid to return to the school. On Friday he won his case. The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ordered the school to allow the boy back.
The pupil, who has now turned 18, may not be identified as he was under-age when the litigation started.
The school last year took disciplinary action against the teenager, as it said he had verbally abused and physically threatened a teacher and also endangered the lives of the other pupils by flipping his table in the air and kicking his chair against a wall.
A pupil was injured during the incident. The teacher laid a charge of assault against him. It is not clear what happened to the charges as this was not mentioned in the court papers, nor the judgment.
The boy, on the other hand, admitted he was no angel, but said he was simply misunderstood.
His teachers told the court he was unusually strong for his age and spent almost all his free time at the gym. They described him as a danger to himself and other pupils.
A disciplinary hearing was held on November 17 last year in the absence of the boy and his divorced parents. The school claimed it gave the boy notice of the disciplinary proceedings, but he maintained that he didn't remember getting the notice. His parents didn't receive the notice either.
While he was found to be guilty of misconduct and the school governing body recommended that he be expelled, this recommendation was never forwarded to the Department of Education, which had to first confirm it. The school at the end of last year told the father it was going to expel his son.
The father thought it fit to enrol his son in a different school for the 2017 year to finish his matric.
He told the head of the school’s disciplinary committee that it was not necessary to recommend to the department that his son be expelled, as he was in any event removing him from the school.
The agreement was that if the father took his son out of the school, the latter would give the father a “clean” transfer card, which wouldn't reflect the disciplinary committee’s recommendation. This was done on the father’s request.
The boy was opposed to changing schools, but his father nevertheless applied to all the schools in the area. None could accommodate the boy, as they were full. A private school agreed to take him, but the father couldn't afford the fees. They were back at Sutherland at the start of this school year, but the school refused to accept him.
Head of the disciplinary committee told the father they had an agreement that he would enrol his son elsewhere.
The boy, meanwhile, through his own lawyer, made it clear that he didn't want to switch schools. He said the agreement reached was with his father and not binding on him, as he had now turned 18.
Judge Johan Louw agreed with this and said the boy is not bound to the agreement reached between the school and the father. He found that the school did not have a choice but to take him back. He also frowned upon the terms of the agreement - that the boy would receive a clean transfer card. The judge said this meant that a school which may have agreed to accept him would not have been aware of his misconduct.
The boy’s lawyer, Anel Jacobs, said they would report for school on Monday and take matters from there. “My client is elated that he can return to his old school,” she said.
The boy had studied towards his matric online, so as not to fall behind.