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Independent Schools Association Says Everything's A-Okay Now At St John's

"The school did what we expect from all out schools."

28/07/2017 12:24 SAST | Updated 28/07/2017 12:25 SAST
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The Independent Schools Association of South Africa's Lebogang Montjane spoke on Power FM on Thursday, and told show host that St John's College handled its racism crisis exactly as it should have.

"In what we see in the case that we are discussing at the moment the school did exactly what we expect from all our schools. If there is misconduct you investigate it, you get an independent tribunal and somebody in to hear that matter and that decision is then made as a recommendation to that school and the school should then act accordingly," Montjane said.

"How disciplinary matters are handled within our member schools is that if there is misconduct either by a student or a teacher, the school will investigate the matter and after investigating the matter, draft a charge sheet. We then require all our schools to have an independent tribunal in which the person presiding is independent of the matter and independent of the school. And then obviously the accused has a right to be heard and not only that, there must be both procedural and substantive following of those rights."

Keith Arlow, a geography teacher there, was found guilty of misconduct in an internal hearing about a racist campaign against South African black, Indian and Greek students, as well as foreign students. He was been given a final written warning but retained by the school. Parents have told HuffPost SA that he should have been dismissed and say he has been given a slap on the wrist.

He also said the school provided children who levelled the allegations with sufficient support.

"All the correct support was actually given to the children and also they were protected from any kind of backlash from the teacher because the teacher was not there in the hearing," he said.

Three black parents who spoke to HuffPost SA on Thursday on condition of anonymity, because their children are still at the school and they fear victimisation, are furious.

"I feel so very helpless," said one parent, adding that she feels the school has closed ranks around Arlow. If her son were not a senior, she would have removed him from the school in protest. "Everyone pretends the school's perfect, but it's not," said another parent, who alleged that racism is rife at the school. A third parent was angry that efforts to get Edey, Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi and Anglican Right Reverend Dr Steve Moreo to properly investigate had failed.

Montjane said he would not recommend the case be investigated by them as "the matter is now resolved".

A letter was sent to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi from a group of concerned parents. Lesufi visited the school on Friday.

"Let me be clear, Isasa is very aware of the letter that was sent to the MEC of education in Gauteng. That letter stipulated that concerned parents of St John's. The letter that we got did not actually indicate who those parents are and obviously the point is that if we're gonna investigate, which I will not recommend because the matter is now resolved, we don't know who those concerned parents are but if the accusations are coming from those parents whose children were involved is another matter, but neither the school, nor Isasa knows who those concerned parents are. So in many ways those concerned parents may be based, all their accusations based on hearsay. They can't actually give direct evidence."

"Thabo in this case you've got to understand that the aggrieved party, like in a criminal case, is the school it is not the learners who were victims of the conduct," he said.