Pupil forces principal to dance to his tune

Published Oct 3, 2003


Seventeen-year-old Anthony Zelenyuk took his headmaster to court when he was told he could not go to his matric farewell on Friday night.

Anthony and his father, Victor, took Sutherland High's Vernon Rorich to a Pretoria court to ensure Anthony did not miss the dance as punishment for going AWOL from a class.

In the end, all it took was a letter of apology from Zelenyuk to Rorich and the teachers he was claimed to have affronted by his actions, and the teenager was able to go to the function.

It all started on August 15 when Anthony, who has received various certificates of commendation for several sports and who was among the top 25 matrics at school, sneaked out of a substitute class.

The regular teacher was absent and another was supervising the class. According to court papers, four other students also skipped the class.

The next day Rorich called Anthony and his friend to the office. He allegedly told Anthony that he was not to attend the matric dance, while his friend did not receive the same punishment.

Anthony's parents claimed this was because their son had earlier complained about some of the teachers.

Rorich said some teachers have complained about Anthony's ill-discipline and that the matric dance was a private function to which the school could invite who it wanted.

After several discussions Anthony wrote a letter of apology on September 29. But the principal and the school's governing body did not accept it, saying matrics had been warned at the beginning of the year that drastic measures would be taken if they misbehaved.

On Thursday Judge Ferdi Preller asked: "Why should this boy be deprived of the privilege of a matric dance?"

He asked if sneaking out of a substitute class was really such a serious offence and remarked on the absence of any serious demerit points on Anthony's record.

"If corporal punishment was still allowed this problem would have been solved. This is an extreme form of punishment," he said.

The parties continued their negotiations outside court and the matter was settled on condition Anthony wrote another letter.

Outside court an elated Anthony promised to behave on Friday night and declared "justice has been done". - Court reporter

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