‘Misunderstanding’ blamed for barring of pupils over fees

A group of pupils from two northern areas schools returned to class yesterday after it was claimed that a miscommunication led them to believe they had been refused entry to their respective schools on Wednesday.

During the first-day rush, 22 pupils from Bethelsdorp High School and 13 from Hillside High School claimed they had been chased away after failing to pay outstanding “fundraising levies” from last year.

However, the principals of the two schools denied the claims.

“We never turned the pupils away. We told the pupils to return at 1pm with their parents so that we could make arrangements [regarding] the outstanding fees. We would never turn a pupil of ours away from their education,” Bethelsdorp High principal Leon Arendse said.

“However, when parents don’t get their way, they tend not to stick to the rules and regulations, which is why they ran to the SACP [SA Communist Party] offices.

“They try to put us principals in a bad light.

“The outstanding fees are fees agreed upon by the parents to pay for governing body teachers. Until the department comes to the party, we are forced to look to the community for help if we are to maintain the same level of academics,” Arendse said.

Hillside High principal Nythil Paulsen said the same situation occurred at the school where pupils misinterpreted the instructions.

“I never chased any pupils home. I gave them a letter to give to their parents instructing their parents to come to school so that we could come to an arrangement regarding outstanding admin fees.

“All the children are back in class today [yesterday] and their books are being handed out,” Paulsen said.

“We had three meetings with the governing body and parents last year. During the budget meeting the parents decided on the amount they would pay towards the fees.

“These fees are used to pay two general workers, an admin clerk, maintenance and a cleaner. They were never used for fundraising.”

At Gelvandale High School, several pupils were asked to leave on Wednesday after failing to get rid of their “holiday hair”, according to the pupils.

Gelvandale High principal Deon O’Brien was unavailable for comment yesterday.

– Tremaine van Aardt

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