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Cape Town - Teachers at Dr Nelson R Mandela High School in Crossroads say they won’t return to class until the principal is removed from his job.
Teachers have been protesting since the beginning of the term about the return of principal Linda Mnotoza.
Education MEC Donald Grant has warned that the teachers’ refusal to work “is in clear violation of their contracts”.
Last week, teachers, parents and pupil representatives alleged that Mnotoza had in the past charged parents a R200 fee and refused to admit children whose parents did not pay, despite the school’s being a no-fee school. They also accused him of mismanagement of funds.
But Grant said accusations against Mnotoza had been investigated by the department and found to be without foundation.
Mnotoza referred questions to the SA Democratic Teachers Union’s Nyanga branch chairman, Vusumzi Ntlahla.
Ntlahla said the only demand made by teachers in a meeting yesterday was that a group of people hanging around the school gate had to leave as some teachers said they had been intimidated by this group.
“They didn’t say anything about the principal.”
Ntlahla said the group agreed to leave.
He said the Western Cape Education Department had not facilitated Mnotoza’s return to school. It should have called a meeting with the school community to explain the findings of the investigation and warn them that Mnotoza was to return, he said.
Teachers who spoke to the Cape Argus agreed that they wanted the people at the gate to go, but said Mnotoza also had to go. They said the findings of the investigation had not been explained to them.
“If he leaves now, we will return to class immediately,” said one teacher, who did not wish to be named.
Grant said the actions of some of the teachers over the past week were unacceptable, selfish and could not be condoned: “The department is issuing these educators with letters requiring them to provide reasons why misconduct charges should not be levelled against them.”
Grant explained that there were clear legal and labour-related processes in place for the selection, nomination and appointment of principals.
“Principals are not chosen by teachers or to suit teachers only. Internal conflict between school staff should be dealt with in a professional manner,” Grant said.
His spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said department officials had been to the school and in close contact with the principal since his return. The department had tried to mediate a solution with the parties, she added.
Casey said the investigation had been thorough and carried out in line with procedure.