Pupils, parents march for principal’s return

Teachers from all quarters are afraid to admonish or discipline students for fear of being reported

According to Paddy Attwell, director of communication for the WCED, Mr Isaacs is facing 16 disciplinary charges, which were instituted during the course of 2015 and early 2016, with three separate hearings taking place concurrently.

Mr Attwell said they cannot discuss the charges that Mr Isaacs is facing while the disciplinary processes are under way but he did confirm that one of the charges referred to alleged assault, not to corporal punishment.

He said the WCED was not involved in laying any criminal charges. There is also an ongoing noise nuisance case involving Mr Isaacs and residents who live around the school, currently being heard in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

Last week, hundreds of pupils, teachers and principals marched to the provincial legislature calling for the reinstatement of Mr Isaacs.

More than 300 people, including pupils, and members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Pagad and the United Front, set off from Keizersgracht Street on Wednesday April 20 to deliver a memorandum to the WCED, which was read by the chairman of the school’s governing body, Trevor Shepherd.

Derek Naidoo, co-ordinator of the committee that organised the protest and parent of a pupil at SPHS, said delegations from 14 schools, 104 principals and 15 teachers were among protesters.

Standing on the steps of the provincial legislature building in Wale Street, Mr Shepherd said they were calling for the immediate lifting of the suspension of Mr Isaacs. “Our ability to prepare learners for their roles in society has been consistently undermined by a few learners who are able to get away with ‘bad behaviour’ because of the systemic weaknesses within the education system.

“Teachers from all quarters are afraid to admonish or discipline students for fear of being reported because of an aggrieved student or parent,” he said.

Wearing a black suit, red armband and tie, Mr Isaacs left a disciplinary hearing to attend the march.

SPHS pupils held up the march and arrived late, at about 1.30pm, and so the Bulletin spoke to Byron van der Ross.

This pupil at Fairmont High spoke eloquently about the reason why this Grassy Park school sent a delegation to the protest.

He said SPHS is losing a great man and feels it is not right that Mr Isaacs has been suspended.

Byron feels the department is being petty and needs to be reasonable and understand that there are naughty children and that it is the parents who complain to the department who are quick to reprimand a teacher or principal.

Byron said every school must unite and stand up for each other because one day an individual school might also need help and support.

Another Fairmont pupil, Gilroy Rinquest said Mr Isaacs is a great role model and he admires him for fighting for the rights of teachers and principals.

Deputy principal Dion Wertheim from Bernadino Heights in Kraaifontein said the department has been heavy-handed on Mr Isaacs. “(In a newspaper) today there is story about a principal fa-cing challenges but support from the WCED is almost non-existent. If we want to act against kids who are part of gangs, unruly or disrespectful our hands are tied.

“And yet we keep the kids in school. Our entry and exit figures are the same which show that they stay. It’s a good school,” he said.

Father Patrick Peters from the Anglican Church in Mitchell’s Plain said he has a grandchild at South Peninsula High and has known Mr Isaacs for 35 years. “I’m here to support him; he’s a man of integrity while down the road (Parliament) we have an institution which has fallen apart.”