Panyaza Lesufi places Laerskool Theresapark principal on leave after ousting by parents
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Pretoria - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has recommended the principal of Laerskool Theresapark remain on special leave, and instituted two investigations into allegations of bullying and financial mismanagement at the school.
Lesufi made the announcement following a meeting with members of the School Governing Body (SGB) and school management team on Friday, regarding the ongoing conflict at the school.
This after last week, a video taken by one of the parents surfaced on social media depicting a group of angry parents carrying the school principal in her office chair out of the administration office, and her eventually falling off the chair.
The frustrated parents attempted to chase away the school principal over allegations of abusing teachers and running the school into financial ruin.
Parents chased away a school principal at Laerskool Theresapark this morning for allegedly abusing other educators who quit their jobs and running the school into financial ruin @DBE_SA #Theresapark @CityTshwane #School #backtoschool pic.twitter.com/MtH7atMhSc— Pretoria News (@pretorianews) May 13, 2021
Lesufi recommended that the school urgently convene a parents’ meeting to adopt a budget and table audited financial statements, with the department to conduct a forensic investigation into the finances of the school.
He said this would help the department and all stakeholders involved to remove facts from fiction.
Second, he approved the appointment of an independent investigation firm to hear the allegations of resignations, bullying of staff members, the role of various WhatsApp groups, and the conduct of the principal. This as members alluded to how parents had been communicating and voicing their dissatisfaction through various groups for some time.
Lesufi also gave the SGB 14 days to identify its strengths and weaknesses and indicate how he could better capacitate it to function optimally to the benefit of the school.
“If you need training on finances, legislation, interpersonal relationship, how to run meetings – whatever form of capacity that you need – tell me how to assist because if we don’t do that you will run the same path the previous SGB did.”
Earlier Lesufi and his team visited the school principal at her home and apologised for the unbecoming manner in which parents had opted to voice their dissatisfaction. “Without necessarily taking sides I am glad we all agree to condemn the conduct of those parents that behaved in that fashion. So for peace’s sake, without finding anyone guilty, we keep the principal on extended leave and attend to the problems.
“We hope by the time we have resolved the report we will know if the principal should come back or not, but we can’t force her to stay at home; people have rights, so it’s just a proposal.”
Lesufi said a month or two should be enough to conclude the matter and get the reports they commissioned.
Chairperson of the SGB, Mogomotsi Tlhoaele, said he was encouraged and hopeful following their meeting, as their main issue was not getting any communication from the district officials or the office of the MEC. “The mood we are getting at the moment is that we can all finally be happy in this instance as we now have contact and assistance.”