Cape Town - The governing bodies of 18 schools and the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union have applied for an interim interdict to halt the closure or merger of these schools by Education MEC Donald Grant and the Western Cape Education Department.

Lawyers for the schools, which are situated across the province, filed the documents at the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

The schools are also seeking an interdict preventing the department from transferring any of their registered pupils and teachers or movable property, and asked that the department continue to provide full subsidies to the schools, including all teachers’ salaries, and be prevented from interfering with the running of the schools.

The schools have also brought the application against the ministers of basic education minister and justice.

In his founding affidavit, Henry Hockey, acting principal of Beauvallon Secondary School in Valhalla Park, said the department’s decision was procedurally and substantively flawed.

The two officials who had recommended the closures of Peak View Secondary in Athlone, Valpark in Valhalla Park and Lavisrylaan Primary in Bishop Lavis had presided over the public hearings at these three schools, which was “fundamentally unfair, unlawful and unconstitutional, while the MEC “did not attend any of the hearings”.

That R3 million had been allocated to John Ramsay Secondary - where Beauvallon pupils were meant to be placed - in March, had indicated that Grant had already made up his mind about the closure of the school.

Grant announced his decision to close schools last month, citing dwindling pupil numbers, poor infrastructure and multigrade teaching as some of the reasons.

Hockey said the application was urgent since the minister and the department had begun taking “unlawful actions” to close the schools before the scheduled date (December 31) including cancelling municipal services, cutting phone lines and confiscating school assets and equipment.

Grant’s spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said on Tuesday he had not received any legal papers, and that the department had confirmed it had not received any papers either.

The schools are expected to bring their application in the high court next Friday.

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Cape Argus