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"They Can't Be Trusted' -- St John's Alumni Call On Headteacher And Council Chair To Also Go

"They can no longer be trusted to take the college forward."

28/07/2017 16:16 SAST | Updated 28/07/2017 16:28 SAST
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The alumni of St John's College have lashed out at the school after it failed to sack a racist teacher, saying the headmaster and chairperson of the school's council failed in their responsibility to "lead and protect the learners".

The group, who are calling themselves the #OpenStJohns Organisers said the headmaster, Paul Edey, and the council head "must be held accountable for bringing disrepute to the college".

"The headmaster, Paul Edey, and chairperson of council, John Patricious, must step down as they can no longer be trusted to take the college forward," the group said.

"Our request for an audience with the headmaster, chairperson and as well as visiting bishop, Reverend Steve Moreo, still stands. We are calling for this meeting to take place on Monday, July 31."

The school is engulfed in a roiling race crisis after its geography teacher, Keith Arlow, made racist remarks to students.

"Arlow and those of his ilk are symptoms of deeper and larger issues of institutional racism, which take more than a dismissal to root out. The St John's community needs to commit itself to a process of reflection and transformation so that all learners feel comfortable and a process that make bigots, of all kinds, feel uncomfortable," the group said.

Arlow resigned with immediate effect after Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi intervened on Friday.

The South African Democratic Teacher's Union's Tsheliso Ledimo said racism should be criminalized.

"We always maintained that racism has no place in our dispensation... It should be criminalized," he said. "We have done so much to get rid of racism since 1994. We can't be having this."

Ledimo said SADTU welcomes Arlow's resignation because it sets a precedent for teachers in the future.

Lesufi previously said the school had to fire Arlow because it would be the most suitable punishment for his offence. The MEC also said that Arlow should be reported to the South African Council of Educators.

The school initially wanted to be given 48 hours to respond to the department but, Lesufi said, due to the urgency of the matter he refused.

Lesufi is now calling for a summit to discuss issues of racism in private schools.

"Subsequent to the meeting with the St John's College management MEC Lesufi met the representatives of the Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) to discuss the issues facing the private education sector. It was agreed that a summit would be facilitated in September 2017 to deal in detail with all issues affecting private and independent schools in particular. A date for the summit will be announced in due course", read a statement.