Top Cape school stands firm in the wake of public race row
The school governing body (SGB) of Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School, which is embroiled in a race row after it constructively dismissed its first black teacher, Nozipho Mthembu, has rubbished calls by certain parents for it to resign.
Instead, the body has offered an olive branch to interested parents. They want the parents to join the SGB to help with governance, particularly with aspects to do with “exclusivity, diversity and transformation”.
In a statement, the SGB also unanimously expressed a vote of confidence in the current chair, Gavin Downward.
The body said that it had considered the call for the entire body to resign, but decided this was pointless because it had been democratically elected.
The school has been in the news for the past week after Mthembu went public about being coerced to resign. The 26-year-old teacher took the school to the CCMA demanding compensation following consistent unpleasant treatment. She went on to win her case.
She alleged that not only did the school single her out for a “mentorship programme”, which left her more traumatised than supported, but Downward and school principal Di Berry gave her an ultimatum to resign or face disciplinary action that would “ruin her reputation”.
The school told her that parents had questioned her competency and what she was teaching their children.
This week a group of concerned parents, which calls itself Parents for Change, expressed concerns at the ongoing racism at the school and called on Downward to step down.
In response, the SGB issued an invitation to parents this week for those interested to join its subcommittee that dealt with transformation and diversity. The school said it had also set up a number of diversity and transformation focus groups to look into “issues such as admission and institutional culture”.
This would also include sport, uniform, symbols, traditions and bursaries.
“We are encouraged by the number of parents that have shown a willingness to participate in these forums up to date,” said the SGB.