Caretaker in probe no longer at school

The Charlo Primary school caretaker who was suspended last month pending an investigation into possible misconduct and allegedly giving gifts to several pupils, has resigned.

The school’s 65-year-old caretaker – who is related to school principal Joe McLeod – was the subject of a multipronged investigation by the school, Department of Education and police.

The matter came to light when a pupil’s parents found SMS messages on their daughter’s cellphone.

While only one pupil allegedly received messages from the caretaker, others were allegedly given gifts made of wood in the shape of hearts and teddy bears. The motive remains unclear. Authorities have supplied limited details of the messages between the caretaker and the schoolgirl, 11.

Police confirmed earlier that the messages were not of a sexual nature, but that they had raised concerns.

A letter was sent to parents on Monday and signed by Charlo Primary’s school governing body vice-chairman Jaco Snyders.

The letter said Charlo Primary’s caretaker had resigned after he was told of the internal charges he faced.

It said further: “The police investigation is not influenced by this and continues, as does the investigation by the Department of Education.

“The results will be made available once received.” Attempts to get hold of Snyders failed. This comes after the school sent out a letter last week, saying McLeod had been sidelined from the probe due to a conflict of interest.

The letter said some pupils had allegedly received gifts and inappropriate SMS messages from the caretaker.

Governing body member Marius Smuts said because the police investigation was still under way, he did not want to discuss the merits of the case.

“But at this stage, he [caretaker] has resigned, so our internal and disciplinary steps stop as he is no longer in the employ of the school,” Smuts said.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said: “The inquiry is almost finalised. No criminal cases have been opened, and no one else came forward.”

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