Mom seeks an­swers from school af­ter daugh­ter’s death

The Sunday Independent - - News - AMANDA MALIBA @Aman­daMal­iba

THE griev­ing mother of a 15-year-old pupil who was found hang­ing in the sick­bay at her school wants an­swers from the school, which she ac­cuses of do­ing a drug test on her daugh­ter with­out her con­sent.

Jeanette Ra­masesane claims the school is hid­ing in­for­ma­tion about the death of her daugh­ter Ler­ato which hap­pened last month.

The school has been ad­vised not to speak to the me­dia.

Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Steve Mabona said the depart­ment was in talks with the fam­ily.

How­ever, Ra­masesane dis­puted this.

“Which fam­ily are they talk­ing to? The depart­ment has not con­tacted me,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mabona, the school de­nies test­ing the chil­dren, yet many pupils at the school con­firmed to The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent that drug test­ing did take place.

“We have a zero tol­er­ance of drug con­sump­tion or deal­ing in our school­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” Mabona said.

“In all cases where a child is tested, par­ents of the child at­tend a meet­ing with the prin­ci­pal or deputies de­pend­ing on who han­dled the case.

“Chil­dren who test pos­i­tive are re­ferred to the drug child pro­gramme co­or­di­nated by the po­lice. Chil­dren who test pos­i­tive for the sec­ond time are re­ferred to Poortview Clinic for re­hab or to government re­hab fa­cil­i­ties.

“As a depart­ment we are sad­dened by the pass­ing of a child in our school and feel the pain of the fam­ily. No child should be put in a sit­u­a­tion where he or she feels com­pelled to take his or her life.” But Ra­masesane is not con­vinced and her big­gest con­cern is about what gov­erns the school’s drug-test­ing pro­cesses and why the school seems cagey around her daugh­ter’s death.

“Kids can get mis­chievous, I get that, but why are we not get­ting any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the school? What did they say to my daugh­ter that led her to killing her­self ?”

Ra­masesane de­scribed her daugh­ter as a quiet child who had never been in trou­ble at home or at school.

“When I asked who was sup­posed to be re­spon­si­ble for the child in the sick­bay while dis­ori­en­tated I did not get an an­swer. When I asked about the drug-test­ing pol­icy, I didn’t get an an­swer.

“I feel like the school is hid­ing far more than what I know at this point.”

When told what Mabona said, Ra­masesane said she was ap­palled at how the depart­ment was de­fend­ing the school. “I am stuck at this point. Where does one go to get an­swers if the depart­ment won’t even help you?

“They are buy­ing the story the school is feed­ing them and aren’t hear­ing my side.”

Ler­ato was in Grade 10 at Jan de Klerk High School. Ra­masesane said she was shocked when she was called at 10am and told that Ler­ato had com­mit­ted sui­cide.

The school told her that Ler­ato had been sent to the sick­bay that morn­ing af­ter walk­ing into class late and “dis­ori­en­tated”.

“I was then pro­vided with a con­fes­sion let­ter hand­writ­ten by my daugh­ter, where she con­fessed to smok­ing mar­i­juana and com­mit­ting to join­ing the school’s pro­gramme. I have never re­ceived any call from the school about this.

“How come I was not no­ti­fied as a par­ent be­cause she was a mi­nor?” she asked.

PICTURES: MATTHEWS BALOYI ANA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY

QUES­TIONS: Jeanette Ra­masesane says teach­ers are with­old­ing in­for­ma­tion about what led to her 15-year-old daugh­ter’s sui­cide at school last month. On the right is the let­ter Ler­ato al­legedly wrote be­fore she died.

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