Roedean principal suspended with immediate effect

14 January 2019 - 10:17 By Iavan Pijoos
The principal of Roedean School (SA) in Johannesburg has been suspended with immediate effect.
The principal of Roedean School (SA) in Johannesburg has been suspended with immediate effect.
Image: File photo

The principal of a Johannesburg private school has been suspended with immediate effect.

In a letter dated January 14 2019, the board of Roedean School (SA) stated that principal Murray Thomas had been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

The letter did not provide information on the subject of the investigation.

Thomas and the school were in the news late last year over the departure and rapid re-employment of a black teacher.

Murray Thomas
Murray Thomas
Image: Roedean school website

Times Select reported in December 2018 that Thomas had informed staff in an email that life orientation teacher Tshidi Mogodiri would be leaving when the school closed for the Christmas holidays.

Mogodiri had been at the school, where almost 90% of teachers are white, for more than 10 years.

The evening Mogodiri left the school, she was called in for an urgent meeting, where she was informed about her new post.

Thomas also apologised at a school assembly last year for saying that a black learner’s poem, which was not meant to offend anyone, did just that.

Grade 9 pupil Avela Swana’s poem was about names being mispronounced. “Your mispronouncing my name validates the fact that I am, in fact, still a black girl in a majority white school,” her poem read.

The poem apparently angered several white teachers.

Deputy principal Fiona Rogers will be acting as head of the school.

“The board and I have no doubt that Fiona will continue to lead the school towards success, guided by our values, strong heritage and strategy,” chairman Audrey Mothupi said in the letter.

Murray, with a career in education spanning 25 years, was appointed to the position two years ago.

The school stated in January 2017 that Thomas holds a post-graduate Masters in International and Comparative Education from the University of Oxford in England. His career has spanned three continents and included posts in the United Kingdom, Taiwan and The Netherlands as well as South Africa. He previously served as deputy principal of Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng, and as head of St Peter’s College.