Petition to support Heathfield principal
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PARENTS, teachers and pupils at Heathfield High School gathered in the school hall yesterday to support principal Wesley Neumann who was found guilty of misconduct.
The principal was found guilty during a Western Cape Education Department (WCED) disciplinary hearing of refusing to reopen the school as instructed during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department confirmed Neumann was found guilty of six charges of misconduct, which included being disrespectful to the previous head of department, Brian Schreuder.
The sanction has yet to be determined, said its spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond.
Parents and staff entering the hall were asked to sign a petition set up by the school governing body, who said they were saddened and disgusted by the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
Brandon de Kock, who was a teacher at the school and a member of the school governing body, said they hoped to challenge the WCED finding by showing how many people supported the principal.
“We hope to show that the people are not happy with the injustice and victimisation, and this diabolical decision that the WCED took against Mr Neumann,” he said.
He added: “This case was fraught with irregularities from the start. There was no way he was going to receive a positive outcome because the WCED appointed their own presiding officer.
“The mandate was to find him guilty and they did just that.”
De Kock said the school was never closed and the SGB only urged parents to keep their learners at home until the peak of the pandemic ended.
“At the time we didn't know much about the pandemic. We had 11 teachers with comorbidities that were off. We only had one general assistant and little to no PPE,” he said.
“That was when we decided to ask parents to keep their learners at home. The school was open, teachers were here and parents who wanted to send their learners to school, could do so.”
Neumann said the past 16 months had been a long journey that had impacted the school and his family life.
“I'm extremely disappointed with the outcome of the hearing.”
Neumann said they were taking the judgement under review. “We have until Wednesday to decide how we are going to proceed.”
Progress reports were also supposed to be collected by parents in the school hall. This soon came to a halt as two pupils took to the stage to address the crowd.
Grade 9 pupil Jemima Bokolomba Batanda addressed the crowd and called for them to support Neumann. “He has brought change to our school that nobody else has done. He loves and cares for us and he wants to keep us safe.
“Mr Neumann deserves to be the principal of Heathfield High School.”