Sunday Tribune

Rumours rife over principal’s resignatio­n

- TRIBUNE REPORTERS

ON THE eve of matric exams, one of South Africa’s top schools, Hilton College, has been plunged into controvers­y over the sudden resignatio­n of its headmaster, Dave Lovatt.

In an e-mail to “the Hilton family” yesterday, the chairman of the board, Yann LeClezio, said the resignatio­n had come about over difference­s of opinion on the direction the school was taking.

However, parents and those connected to the 130-year-old school, which costs about R140 000 a year to attend, say they are angry about the way the situation has been handled.

A Hilton parent, who asked not to be named, said a distinguis­hed school with an internatio­nal reputation to uphold should not be surrounded by rumour and speculatio­n.

“Parents pay very high fees for their sons to be educated in a quality school. For this to become public knowledge on the eve of exams, when kids should be thinking only of their studies, is not acceptable.”

He said that since the news had filtered down to “ground level”, the rumours had spread like wildfire.

“Many of us have tried to calm things down, but it should not have happened in the first place. If there were difference­s, as the board has stated, surely they could have been put on hold until a more appropriat­e time.”

While speculatio­n is rife within the school community about Lovatt’s departure, staff and board members yesterday remained tight-lipped.

The Sunday Tribune tried to contact Lovatt to clarify the situation, but only managed to get through to his wife, Janine, who said she would not comment. The Tribune asked if it could leave a contact number for Lovatt to call back if he wished to, but she said, “I don’t think he will.”

Lovatt took over from Mike Nicholson at the beginning of last year, having served as the second master at Hilton since 2005. Prior to that, he was the deputy head at Uplands College near White River.

Lovatt was described as having “a clear vision for a school to be a place where cultural diversity flourishes, and to be the centre of a community which provides an environmen­t in which parents feel as comfortabl­e as their sons”.

The Tribune visited the school yesterday, but was turned away at the gates.

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