The Eastern Cape Department of Education has come up with a plan to rectify the situation at Morningside High School in Port Elizabeth after a probe uncovered alleged financial mismanagement and irregularities.
Yesterday, the department convened a meeting at the district office in Sidwell, which it said was the first step in resolving the issues at the school.
The probe, which covered the school’s 2013 to 2016 financial years, led to the compilation of an internal draft report.
This allegedly implicated principal Dr Saraswathi Pather and Timothy Hendricks, the former head of the school governing body and tuck shop manager.
The department’s report also highlighted fruitless and wasteful expenditure, gross misconduct and dereliction of duty and the failure to comply with various sections of the South African Schools Act.
It also pointed to unauthorised debit orders from the school’s account and substantial expenditure, including by the tuck shop, without supporting documentation.
Education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the meeting was attended by SGB members, the school management team led by Pather, and officials from the district and head office.
“It was agreed that due to allegations of instability, there will be a by-election on May 13 at the school to strengthen the SGB,” Mtima said.
“What came out of the meeting was reports that the SGB is dysfunctional and that we need to address this.”
It had also been agreed that the department would send a team from its curriculum directorate to improve school functionality, including the assessment of teachers and pupil performance.
Regarding the department’s report into financial mismanagement at the school, Mtima said he could not reveal the amount that had been “misplaced”.
“All we can say is that a huge amount has been embezzled.
“Labour relations processes will be followed to deal with those [allegedly] responsible for embezzling state funds,” he said.
“We will work within reasonable timeframes set within the Labour Relations Act.”
The Rev Xolani Tengo, a Morningside parent and former SGB member, who laid the initial complaint in the matter, described the meeting as productive but declined to comment further.