Pupils from Klipspruit West Secondary School were prevented from returning to school after the holidays because parents say they want a coloured principal not a black one. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - Klipspruit Secondary School pupils were forced to miss the first day of the third term on Monday when angry parents barred them from class in a protest against the appointment of a black principal.

The racial row over the new appointment led to parents, mostly from the coloured area, locking the school gates and vowing to disrupt learning unless the Gauteng Department of Education rescinded its decision.

School Governing Body member Henry Charles said the racial tension was triggered by the community demanding the appointment of a coloured principal. The community claims there is a lack of representation of coloured people in school leadership positions.

Charles, who was part of a panel which interviewed applicants for the position, said: “During the process we were asked what criteria are we going to use with race. I stood up and said I would score five for coloureds and I’ll score four for black people,” Charles said.

“They said coloureds and blacks are the same and I said but this is a coloured area and they said I am being racist. We want a coloured principal because this is a coloured area,” he said.

The department spokesman Oupa Bodibe said: “The department has learnt the disturbing news that the community in Klipspruit West has rejected the principal because of skin colour. This action is strongly condemned, as it runs against the non-racial principles of our society. Educators are appointed on the basis of qualification and experience.”

The school is set to reopen on Tuesday following a heated meeting between the governing body, Education Department officials, SA Teachers Democratic Union and parents.

It was decided that the department needs to re-look the new appointment and that a caretaker principal be appointed.

Speaking on behalf of four community organisations, Sharice Pretorious said the appointment was questioned based on irregularities that occurred during selection.

“A meeting was scheduled by the Greater Eldorado Park Business Forum based on the questions that had been raised by our investigation and these issues were then discussed,” Pretorious said.

“We then arranged another meeting with the newly elected SGB of the school and they too were not happy with the appointment or the process that was followed for that matter. A consensus was reached with the SGB, Business Forum, the Patriotic Association of South Africa and the Kullid Foundation and the community that the appointment would not happen.”

Last year, a similar incident occurred at Roodepoort Primary School after it was temporarily closed three times. This was after a dispute that started in 2015 when parents claimed the principal was unfairly appointed ahead of a better qualified teacher.

The Star