St John's College: teacher found guilty of making racist remarks has resigned

28 July 2017 - 18:04 By Timeslive
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
School desks
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

St John’s College in Johannesburg has confirmed that a teacher found guilty of serious misconduct for making racist comments has resigned with immediate effect.

It said that at a meeting between the school’s leadership and the teacher on Friday‚ it was made clear that the situation was untenable and that the relationship had broken down irretrievably. It was mutually agreed that the college and the teacher part ways and the teacher tendered his resignation‚ which the college accepted‚ it said in a statement.

“The decision made by an independent tribunal drew outrage‚ confusion and appeals for the school to reconsider the sanction from our students‚ parents‚ staff and alumni. We realised that our commitment to abide by the finding of the independent Senior Counsel failed to acknowledge that this was not just an internal school issue‚ it is an issue for the broader community‚” said the Visitor of St John’s College‚ the Right Reverend Dr Steve Moreo‚ Bishop of Johannesburg‚ the chairman of the Council‚ Jon Patricios‚ and the executive headmaster‚ Paul Edey.

St John’s apologised to the students affected‚ their parents‚ the student body‚ all parents‚ staff‚ alumni and “everyone else” for the hurt caused by the matter.

“St John’s is an Anglican school and believes in the principle of loving the sinner while hating the sin. We therefore send our prayers to all for healing from this difficult situation‚” the college said.

“The well-being and security of our students are our primary concern and we deeply regret the hurt this has caused all our communities. But perceptions that St John’s College condones racism and that racism is widespread are absolutely untrue. The College does not condone racism in any form. It will investigate and take action in respect of any racial issue that may arise at the school. The College emphatically rejects racism‚ in all of its guises. It has no place in a democratic society‚” St John’s said.

It said it had noted the comments and concerns expressed by former and current students‚ parents and staff around racism and would strengthen its transformation efforts.

“We understand that at St John’s College we need to continue to examine our own perceptions‚ beliefs and motivations‚ especially in relation to challenging and difficult issues such as racism‚ bigotry‚ sexism‚ homophobia‚ misogyny‚ privilege and entitlement. St John’s is committed to transformation and to producing young people who will contribute and aid in the much-needed work to build an inclusive society based on democratic principles of human dignity‚ non-racialism and non-sexism.”

The teacher has been allowed to continue teaching at the school despite being found to have victimised pupils based on their race.

He was issued with a final written warning and had stepped down from senior positions at the college in addition to also receiving a pay cut.

The announcement that the teacher had resigned on Friday contradicted an earlier statement by the Gauteng education department which said that he had been fired.

This followed a visit to the school on Friday morning by Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

In a statement‚ Lesufi’s office said that he had met earlier in the day with the school’s management team and had expressed his disappointment and unhappiness following the decision to retain the teacher‚ even after he was found guilty following a disciplinary process.

Gauteng Education Department head Edward Mosuwe‚ the school’s council chairperson‚ Dr John Patricios‚ as well as visiting Bishop‚ Reverend Dr Steve Moreo‚ were also present in the meeting.

The teacher was found guilty of three charges; contravening the South African Council of Educator’s (SACE) Code of Conduct‚ making racist and derogatory statements and for bringing the school into disrepute.

“The MEC said the final written warning was unsatisfactory considering the seriousness of the charges and the guilty finding against the educator.

“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‚” Lesufi’s spokesperson‚ Steve Mabona‚ said.

“All schools‚ whether they are public or private‚ cannot have codes of conduct that contravene the Constitution of South Africa. We will deal with racism decisively and not give Racists space to breath because non-racialism is non-negotiable‚” said Lesufi.

“The department takes allegations of racism very seriously and where it rears its ugly head‚ we will not hesitate to act swiftly to deal with the matter‚” he added.

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now