Angry parents protest and shut down school in Bishop Lavis over teacher’s sick leave
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Cape Town - Bishop Lavis parents barricaded the gates of Lavis Rylaan Primêre Skool on Monday, blocking the school’s teachers and pupils from accessing the building, over a teaching vacancy.
The shutdown follows a protest on Friday last week, over a Grade two teacher who has allegedly been on sick leave since the start of the first term.
Magdalene Koopman, from Bishop Lavis Action Community (BLAC), said the parents of the school approached the organisation, seeking assistance, after the poor performance of their children in the first term.
“They told us this teacher never attended school since the beginning of the school year. We went to investigate and discovered that she sends in a sick certificate every week.
“The Education Department said they can't send a substitute teacher because of this, and that an employee must be off sick for 15 days or more before they can act on it.”
Koopman added: “Our first protest was on Friday, and Wayne Hendricks and Leon Rutgers from the department came out and told us the teacher will be in school today, according to her sick certificate. This morning it was the same old story.
“We protested again and the school principal called the department, for the school to get a substitute teacher. We now want to know what will happen to the substitute teacher if the ’sick’ teacher reports to work next week, and then continues with the cycle,” she said.
Koopman said the parents wanted assurance that the substitute teacher will be absorbed, with a salary, and have demanded documents to this effect.
School governing body (SGB) deputy chairperson Natasha Manim said the teacher's absence, which has been ongoing for eight years, was unreasonable and unfair to pupils’ progress.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Millicent Merton said the department was aware of the protest, due to parents’ frustration about a teacher being on sick leave during the first term.
“When it became evident that the teacher would be on extended sick leave, the WCED appointed a substitute teacher for the remainder of the first term.
“While we understand parents’ frustration, disrupting the learning of others – and placing pupils and teachers at risk – is not the answer.
“The WCED will apply its policy and procedures with regard to sick leave, incapacity leave and ill-health retirement,” said Merton.