Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann fired by WCED with immediate effect for misconduct
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Cape Town - Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann, who had been facing a number of misconduct charges, has been dismissed from duty with immediate effect.
Neumann posted on Wednesday the Final Sanction letter, which was emailed to him by disciplinary presiding officer Mrs R Raubenheimer.
The letter stated: “When reviewing all charges cumulative and the relevant authority regarding dismissal, the PO finds that dismissal would be the only reasonable and appropriate sanction. The risk of further instances of misconduct in the future is high.
“Moreover, it is clear that the relationship of trust had been severed beyond repair. Mr Neumann is, therefore, dismissed.”
Neumann was facing six charges following his refusal to reopen the school amid the Covid-19 infection peak last year. His disciplinary hearing lasted 25 days, during which parents, teachers and learners protested in his defence.
He was found guilty of all the charges on October 13.
Neumann's lawyer Vernon Seymour said he was also not surprised to learn about the sanction. He said he had advised Neumann to appeal the matter with hopes that "someone might see the light".
"To be honest, we can appeal internally, but the outcome may not change," he said.
Seymour said from the start of the hearing, they had first asked for the recusal of the presiding officer, and when she didn't agree to withdraw, they asked that the matter be handled by the Education Bargaining Council. He said that recommendation was also rejected.
"Mr Neumann is very positive. He is a true professional and is focusing on the matric exams. He will be in office throughout the appeals process. And should the appeal fail, I will advise that we go to the bargaining council. Our labour laws are excellent for this reason," said Seymour.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond denied claims that the process is part of an ongoing campaign to discredit Neumann. She said was a fair process, whereby the employee was given a fair opportunity to represent his case.
"The WCED will not entertain the narrative that there was bias by the presiding officer. This is an independent presiding officer who has years of experience. Her judgment reflects case law, taking into account the extensive testimony provided. She was also not 'hand-picked' .
"There has been many inaccurate statements made regarding this case, which do not address the actual charges in which the employee was found guilty of," she said.
Heathfield High School's Special Action Committee, which has been rallying behind Neumann, said they will fight the sanction.
Spokesperson Allan Liebenberg said: "The sanction was expected based on the flawed and dishonest disciplinary hearing. The sanction of dismissal does not determine the end to ensure that justice is done. We will fight."
Liebenberg said as time continues, the matter will slowly get taken out of the Western Cape Education Department's hands.
"We are convinced that once the matter is in the hands of authorities, not the WCED, we will get positive outcomes.“