Silence on Oprah school 'misconduct'

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

The details regarding the suspension of a dormitory parent at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls because of "misconduct" was still under wraps yesterday.

The state-of-the-art school in Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg, and owned by talkshow host Oprah Winfrey, is reported to have suspended a dorm parent and launched internal investigations.

The child protection services have also been called in.

The school's communication company said there would be no interviews with the media and referred Sowetan to chief executive John Samuel's media statement.

The gender of the suspended employee is not known, nor is it known when the act of misconduct was committed.

The multimillion-rand school opened in January this year for Grade 7 and 8 pupils from poor backgrounds.

It has been marred by squabbles ranging from demands for work by local residents, claims of restricted access to the school by local police, complaints by parents that the school is too strict, with one parent removing 12-year-old Aviwe last month, saying her daughter was ill- treated.

The present matter has prompted Winfrey herself to investigate what was going on behind the high walls of the closely guarded school.

"Nothing is more serious or devastating to me than an allegation of misconduct by an adult against any girl at the academy. I will do everything within my power to ensure their safety and well-being," said Winfrey in a statement.

Aviwe's father, Milton Ngalo, said: "The only mistake Winfrey made was to appoint local people to run the school; there is nothing wrong with the school itself."