School love tryst ends in expulsion
A MATRIC pupil who was expelled from a posh private girls’ school for “bunking out” and visiting her boyfriend late at night has lost a court application to have the action reversed.
The pupil and her parents sought relief from the Grahamstown High Court to allow her to attend the Diocesan School for Girls – although not as a boarder.
The pupil – said to be suffering from depression and feeling suicidal – was expelled after she left her hostel to seek comfort from her boyfriend at St Andrew’s College.
She underwent an internal disciplinary hearing after she sneaked out of her hostel at around 11.30pm through a fire escape door – which she had left open – crossed a school field, climbed a 2-metre wall and entered St Andrew’s.
She punched in a security code to gain entry.
To confuse DSG staff, she left a teddy bear in her bed to make them believe she was still sleeping.
Her absence was discovered after the house mistress noticed that the fire escape door was open.
When it was discovered the pupil was not in bed, she was sent a cellphone message ordering her to return to her room immediately.
She was found hiding in her boyfriend’s room at about 1.30am.
The pupil – who had previously had an "unblemished” school record – faced charges of serious misconduct. These were that she:
- Put herself and the "sustainability of the school” at risk;
- Compromised the safety of the house by leaving a fire door open;
- Entered St Andrew’s boarding house, where she was discovered in a boy’s room.
In court proceedings challenging the expulsion, it emerged the pupil suffered from psychological issues.
At the time, she needed to get away as she felt like killing herself.
Delivering judgment this week, Judge Judith Roberson said when the pupil enrolled at the school, she and her parents had agreed to abide by rules and policies. These covered serious misconduct – including bunking out of hostel.
Roberson said the tribunal’s decision had considered the interests of both the pupil and the school, as well as the offence itself.
"It did not ignore the fact that [she] was in her matric year, her emotional state, her contributions to the school or her unblemished record,” the judge said.
"It did not lose sight of the fact that she is a young person, and alluded to the fact that the members of the tribunal all have children of their own. [She] put herself and other girls in danger and betrayed the trust of DSG and her parents.
"The tribunal was correct to view these factors in a serious light, and to consider their broader implications.
"The tribunal did not overlook lesser sanctions and ... was of the view that they would not teach [her] the lesson she had to learn, namely responsibility towards the community.”
The boyfriend was issued with a final written warning and suspended from St Andrew’s.