Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann facing six charges of alleged misconduct for refusing to open school. Picture: Southern Mail
Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann facing six charges of alleged misconduct for refusing to open school. Picture: Southern Mail

Heathfield High SGB chair calls on WCED to drop ‘ridiculous charges’ against principal

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Oct 1, 2020

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Cape Town - Healthfield High School principal Wesley Neumann has been charged with six charges of alleged misconduct in terms of the Employment of Educators Act, 76 of 1998, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said on Wednesday.

Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the matter was sub judice, however, the contents of those charges could not be disclosed.

Hammond said the charges against Neumann were neither personal or political. “Neumann’s actions are in contravention of the Employment of Educators Act, 76 of 1998.”

This after Neumann refused to reopen the school amid the Covid-19 infection peak, and wrote an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet asking for the closure of schools.

Neumann said his only crime was that he supported the views of his community and erred on the side of caution to protect their children.

“I hold that educators and principals must have human agency. If presented with the same situation again, I will not hesitate to put the safety of our children first again, with the same conviction,” said Neumann.

He said he does not view the attack to get him dismissed personally but an attack on teachers all over the Western Cape who genuinely cared for the wellbeing of the children under their care.

“I have made a conscious decision to fight these absurd charges and if I am dismissed, it will be a small price to pay to be able to retain my freedom of speech and my right to deliver constructive criticism.”

A leaked letter, sent to Neumann by the department head Brian Schreuder on July 24, said the WCED had been informed that Grade 12 pupils at Heathfield High have not been attending school.

Heathfield High governing body (SGB) chairperson Vasoula Bailey called on the WCED to drop the “ridiculous charges" Neumann.

“Neumann, one of the young leaders from our communities, took a principled decision to allow the SGB to play the role they were elected for, and respected their authority and decisions we took in the interest of our learners and community, as guided by the Schools Act,” Bailey said.

Cape Argus

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