Cape Times

Legal battle brews as disbanded SGB of Heathfield High challenges WCED in court

- OKUHLE HLATI okhule.hlati@inl.co.za

THE disbanded school governing body (SGB) of Heathfield High has submitted an urgent interdict in an attempt to stop the appointmen­t process for positions, including that of former principal Wesley Neumann.

Former SGB chair Craig Dowman approached the Western Cape High Court yesterday for an order to find the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) acted unlawfully in filling senior posts using an interim SGB allegedly only made up of department officials.

The governing body which included parents was dissolved on February 28 by Head of Education Brent Walters.

In the applicatio­n, Dowman wants the WCED to be interdicte­d and restrained from proceeding with the recruitmen­t process including, but not limited to, shortlisti­ng, interviewi­ng and selection of candidates for recommenda­tion for appointmen­t and appointmen­t as principal of the school as there is a vacancy.

Dowman also wants the court to direct that the recruitmen­t process for principal of Heathfield High School only commence if and when the dispute relating to the dismissal of the school principal in May 2022, has been resolved and further direct that costs of this applicatio­n be paid by the WCED and any other respondent who opposes the applicatio­n.

Neumann took his fight with the department to the Labour Court to challenge being fired in 2020 after he lost his case at the Education Labour Relations Council when it found his dismissal was “procedural­ly and substantiv­ely fair” and granted him no further relief.

WCED spokespers­on Bronagh Hammond said their legal team received the documents yesterday and were reviewing the contents of the applicatio­n to decide if they will oppose it.

The matter is expected to be heard on April 23.

“Mr Neumann has twice been found guilty of five charges. The principal post was advertised in vacancy list 1/2024 with a closing date of March 20, 2024.

“The recruitmen­t process has not commenced yet.

“There is a new curator principal in place who, with the school management, has developed specific interventi­ons to address learning losses. We have already seen improvemen­ts in attendance and learner participat­ion this year,” said Hammond.

She said several interventi­ons at the school aimed to improve education outcomes including additional afternoon classes for Grade 12 as the pass rate continued to decline, dipping from 76% in 2021 to 50% in 2023.

Law enforcemen­t officers are also still deployed at the school following chaotic incidents last year.

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