The call to have suspended South Peninsula principle, Brian Isaacs, reinstated was intensified earlier this week as supporters of the campaign took to the street of the CBD and marched to the Legislature to handover a memorandum. Isaacs was suspended earlier this year on charges of misconduct.
Director of Communication at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), Paddy Atwell, confirmed that the WCED has received the memorandum and that a reply has been drafted.
“We have studied the memorandum; it raises very important issues and makes some practical suggestions, which will be considered. We look forward to engage the community on how to address the issue,” Atwell stated.
He further stated that WCED rejects claims that the Department is victimizing Isaacs.
Atwell said claims against Isaacs are not a reflection of his ability as an educator. Instead, he noted, the WCED is obligated to investigate any allegation of misconduct.
He confirmed that the suspension of Isaacs is in response to “very specific” allegations of misconduct, furthermore noting that the suspension was a precautionary measure, due to repeated complaints.
“The WCED is obligated to investigate allegations of misconduct, so we cannot ignore the allegations based on his record,” Atwell explained.
He said the WCED acknowledged that the schools throughout South Africa face severe disciplinary issues, which it is working to address.
With regards to calls for the expulsion of ill-disciplined pupils, Atwell asserted that the WCED cannot expel pupils, since expulsion is a legal matter.
The WCED denies applications of expulsion in the event that a school does not follow the correct procedures.
“The procedures are firmly ground in the constitution, and we provide extensive training in our eight district offices in that regard. Many schools are benefitting from this support and we will welcome the support of South Peninsula High,” Atwell stated.
“The WCED ignored the issue of discipline”
Isaacs explained that he is currently in three concurrent disciplinary hearing, in which he faces 16 charges relating to misconduct.
“The department, because of the three disciplinary hearings, felt that I had to be removed from my passion, which is teaching – I think it most unfair,” Isaacs stated.
In addition, Isaacs said he is challenging the illegality of the suspension in the Education Labour Relations Council, which will be addressed in a meeting scheduled for May 12, 2016.
He further noted that he may address the issue in the Labour Court, since a teacher may only be suspended in the event that the teacher committed actions that are considered ‘serious misconduct’. The accusations against Isaacs, he asserts, is not considered ‘serious misconduct’.
Many supporters of Isaacs describe the unfolding events and the suspension as a mere ‘witch hunt’.
“In the history of South Africa, there have been many brave teachers who have fought unsound educational policies and they have succumbed to the education authority. The current education authority, instead of listening to teachers who are saying that the WCED must talk about the ill-discipline in the schools, has been recalcitrant on talking about it,” Isaacs explained.
Isaacs asserts that in any country, laws need to be adhered to. However, he noted, since 80 per cent of South African schools are dysfunctional, the issues on the ground, such as ill-discipline, needs to be addressed.
“Must we sit back as teachers and allow our schools to be dysfunctional. There is something wrong in the way in which the WCED attacks teachers when teachers attempt to discipline students – that is what we are trying to fight.”
Isaacs further said the issue at hand is not isolated, since it reflects the lack of discipline that all teachers are attempting to address, and the lack of action taken by WCED of education. He explained that the lack of discipline was made evident in an incident that occurred at Monument High School where one student shot the principle.
He, however, noted that since the WECD did not adequately address his concerns, he decided to approach all mechanisms that may assist in addressing the issue of discipline.
“I approached radio, media, and newspapers for assistance, since the WCED is saying that I cannot publish negative things about it.”