An­gry par­ents in Twit­ter drive

Park­town Boys al­le­ga­tions go on­line

Saturday Star - - METRO - Shain.germaner@inl.co.za

SHAIN GERMANER

DIS­GRUN­TLED par­ents at Park­town Boys’ High School and al­leged vic­tims of abuse at the school have started a so­cial me­dia cam­paign call­ing on the Gaut­eng De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and the school to re­move teach­ers ac­cused of mis­con­duct.

Dozens of al­le­ga­tions against the school’s teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tion and the de­part­ment have been posted over the past week.

The cam­paign comes in the wake of the sen­tenc­ing of a for­mer wa­ter­polo coach at the school, Col­lan Rex, con­victed of mo­lest­ing and as­sault­ing at least 12 pupils dur­ing his ten­ure.

In re­cent months, par­ents of the vic­tims have lashed out at the de­part­ment and the school for al­legedly pro­tect­ing teach­ers found to have been in­volved in mis­con­duct in­clud­ing bul­ly­ing, in­tim­i­da­tion, al­legedly bring­ing strip­pers onto the school premises and cul­ti­vat­ing a cul­ture of si­lence that pre­vented pupils from re­port­ing abuse.

The so­cial me­dia cam­paign makes al­le­ga­tions of beat­ings and bul­ly­ing against ed­u­ca­tors at the school – cur­rent and for­mer – as well as claims that the school gov­ern­ing body (SGB) failed to ad­dress th­ese is­sues.

How­ever, the de­part­ment has ral­lied to the school, say­ing all of the al­leged in­ci­dents oc­curred be­fore the cur­rent SGB and head­mas­ter, Mal­colm Wil­liams, ar­rived at the school.

“The school un­der the cur­rent lead­er­ship, un­der­took to end the cul­ture of si­lence and stop ini­ti­a­tions that were iden­ti­fied as prob­lem­atic at the school. They in­tro­duced a tool for pupils to re­port com­plaints anony­mously. Pupils are en­cour­aged to utilise all mech­a­nisms in­tro­duced to re­port com­plaints,” said ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment spokesper­son Steve Mabona.

Park­town SGB spokesper­son Kim van Es said while the school was aware of the so­cial me­dia cam­paign, the school did not wish to com­ment on “anony­mous posts”.

“The SGB have al­ways made it clear that the SGB will act on any al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct, sup­ported by ev­i­dence, which are brought to it. No such in­for­ma­tion has been pro­vided,” she said.

She said the school had taken nu­mer­ous steps to find a way for­ward for all mem­bers of the school com­mu­nity. Ac­cord­ing to Van Es, the school’s code of con­duct had been re­viewed by Dr John Buswell from the NGO Rape­wise, while all forms of ini­ti­a­tion had been banned. The Guardian app launched at the school also al­lows pupils to re­port con­cerns or unac­cept­able be­hav­iour anony­mously. She said the board­ing house where much of the abuse from the coach took place now falls un­der “school struc­tures and pro­cesses”, and that all staff ap­point­ments in the house would be rat­i­fied by the head­mas­ter.

“We ap­plaud the courage and in­tegrity of the boys who have come for­ward to re­port past in­ci­dents of abuse, ini­ti­a­tion and racism, and we re­main com­mit­ted to erad­i­cat­ing all such unac­cept­able ac­tions from our School,” said Van Es.

PARK­TOWN Boys’ High School has been hit with nu­mer­ous scan­dals this year.

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