School's out as teachers clash

Parents burned tyres outside the Opelweg primary yesterday.
Parents burned tyres outside the Opelweg primary yesterday.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

Classes were disrupted at Opelweg Primary School in Eden Park, on the East Rand, on Monday as a fight between the school's principal and some teachers took a nasty turn.

A group of parents burned tyres in front of the school gates, preventing pupils and teachers from accessing it as they came to voice their support for the principal. Pupils were directed to a local park where they were supervised by some of their teachers and concerned parents.

According to the parents, some teachers were behind a plan to oust the principal.

Speaking on behalf of the parents, Nina Booysen said they have a problem with seven teachers who are fighting over the post.

"As a result, these teachers are causing chaos here at the school as they feel that one of the deputy principals should be the one running the school.

"We are saying the Gauteng education department must come and fetch their rubbish (referring to the seven teachers) as they are disrupting our school. We are saying if they are not happy with the principal they should pack their bags and leave," said Booysen.

The parents vowed that the school gates will only be opened when the seven teachers have been removed.

The school principal, Roger John, refused to comment and referred all questions to the chairperson of the school governing body, Jerome Sylvester.

Sylvester said they wrote a letter to the department and asked for an immediate intervention but nothing has happened. "The principal has been serving the school for 29 years. We want the department to engage with us on this matter. We can't have our principal being harassed by staff members," Sylvester said.

Community leader Sally Nkosi-Petersen, one of the parents who were looking after the kids while playing, said: "The parents of these children are at work and who will be to blame when something happens to them.

"We are sitting here to make sure that they are safe ..."

Education spokesperson Steve Mabona yesterday said they were aware of the disruptions: "It is discouraging for parents to disrupt schooling, because it is difficult to regain any lost curriculum time.

"We've dispatched officials to interact with parents, and wish to confirm there is a parents' meeting scheduled for tonight at the school, which we hope will assist to address issues accordingly. It must also be indicated that, a process for disciplinary action against all educators implicated in misconduct has commenced."

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