Irate parents shut Walmer school
Impasse over delay in appointing principal after acting head left in February
Furious parents shut down Walmer Primary School on Wednesday morning following the provincial education department’s failure to appoint a principal.
The parents, who were protesting outside the school in Walmer Township while the pupils sat on the grass across from the building, said they would not allow any children onto the premises until department officials agreed to meet them and appoint a principal.
According to school governing body (SGB) secretary Andile Gebuza, after acting principal Nomonde Mgoduka went off on sick leave in February, the department had undertaken to appoint a permanent principal by the end of April.
“Ms Mgoduka was appointed as an acting principal last year after our principal retired.
“And since her appointment we have had issues with her that we raised with the department,” Gebuza said.
“At the last meeting we had with Ms Mgoduka, she told us [SGB] that she was going on sick leave, and we have not seen or heard from her since.”
He said that soon after Mgoduka left, the department started the process of appointing a permanent principal.
“We had already done training for the short-listing and interview process which was going to be on April 23 and 29 respectively.”
Gebuza said the SGB received a notice from the district office two weeks ago, saying that Mgoduka claimed the SGB had unlawfully “chased” her out of the school.
He said the letter suggested that punitive action would be taken against the SGB.
“The department never came to verify these claims, they just told us that they are putting everything on hold because they could not allow the same SGB to form part of the appointment of the principal,” Gebuza said.
Other issues raised by the SGB and the parents are:
● Appointment of an admin clerk;
● Appointment of a grade 5 English teacher;
● Issuing of reports and other administrative and educational material needed; and
● Payment to Nashua Printers, which the SGB says is owed R40,000.
The father of two pupils in grades 4 and 6, Litha Cetywayo, said he fully supported the SGB’s decision to take action.
“The department of education doesn’t have children in the school, so they are not immediately affected by what’s happening.“They have been undermining and disregarding our children for far too long.“We [parents] have been getting reports from the SGB for months now about this principal issue and we will keep our children away for as long as the department delays appointing one,” he said.Another parent, Lindile Maki, said all his children were products of Walmer Primary, and he still had a daughter in grade 4 at the school.“My eldest is working and my other daughter is now at Rhodes University – they all went to this school.“It is a good school. But a school with no leader will never fully function,” Maki said.“That is why you find teachers doing as they please and issues with administration – because there is no leadership.”Asked why she had left the school without notice and the affidavit referred to by the SGB, Mgoduka said she did not want to rehash the events, saying the department would answer the questions best.“I am no longer at the school – I am almost at my exit point and I have submitted my retirement letter.“So I don’t want to comment on the matter,” she said.Provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the process for appointing a principal at Walmer Primary had started at the end of 2018.“The short-listing was planned but, on the date, the acting principal was refused entry to school premises.“She fears to go back to school. The acting principal’s removal forced the [department’s] labour section to inform the district director to temporarily halt the appointment due to the instability at the school,” Mtima said.He said a meeting with the SGB and education social support services was held last week and the department was still awaiting the outcome.“Issues like the payment of a printing company [and] appointment of the clerk will be investigated.”