NEWS

Critical Week Ahead For Parents Of St John's College

Existing school policies and codes of conduct will be examined next month.

16/08/2017 13:46 SAST | Updated 16/08/2017 13:46 SAST
St John's

This week will be a deciding factor of whether St John's college will bow to pressure from concerned parents over the establishment of a new committee tasked with transforming the school, which has been embroiled in a race crisis.

"This is actually a very,very critical moment in the whole process," said Lerato Okeyo, a spokesperson for parents told HuffPost SA on Wednesday.

"If council does not come and agree to what we are proposing we can't see on what basis we can properly move forward."

St John's was due to provide parents with a response on the terms of reference for it new interim board but nothing had yet been resolved.

The board was meant to handle transformation at the school after a teacher was found guilty of misconduct last month. Geography teacher Keith Arlow was found guilty of racist remarks towards South African black, Indian, Greek and foreign students. He was given a final written warning but was retained by the school. This caused public outrage as many believed that Arlow got a slap on the wrist for a serious offence. He later resigned.

The school apologised for not taking vigorous steps to ensure that appropriate disciplinary measures were taken against Arlow.

A new council was due to be elected to deal with transformation measures.

Parents want the committee to consist of 20 members-- 10 nominated by the school and another 10 by the community. The committee is expected to operate for six-months to create an inclusive policy.

"The objective of the interim structure is to evaluate the structures, policies, and the procedures of the school from its constitution downwards in order to correct them such that we can avoid reoccurrence of racism and any other forms of discrimination," Okeyo said.

"Basically[parents want to] have a school that is more inclusive and appropriate to a 21st century world class African school."

The interim committee was suggested by parents last month at a town hall meeting where around 500 learners, teachers, alumni and management gathered to discuss how the school could move forward. At this meeting, the head of council apologised to learners who were victims of Arlow's racist slurs.

Meanwhile, Old Boys falling under the #OpenStJohns Movement have demanded that the school's headmaster Paul Edey and its council head Jon Patricios step down. The group believes there could never be effective change until the pair is removed. They believe Edey and Patricios cannot be trusted.

The school has assured parents that they will continue discussions to create a more inclusive community throughout their break. The college is scheduled to re-open in September, when it would re-examine "existing school policies and codes of conduct."