Irate parents shut down Limpopo school to defend ‘bullied’ principal

Teaching and learning screeched to a halt when angry parents suspended classes at a poorly performing high school in Limpopo after alleging that the circuit manager seemed to be working in cahoots with some teachers in a bid to sabotage the principal.

The events unfolded at Madikoloshe Malepe Senior Secondary School in Praktiseer, outside Burgersfort, which falls under the Mabulane School Circuit.

On Monday, parents said there was no sense in sending their children to a school where teachers deliberately spent their teaching periods drinking tea or just sitting in classrooms without providing lessons.

The turf war, targeted at the principal, has resulted in Mabulane School Circuit manager Lesedi Nake suggesting to the school management that the school governing body (SGB) be dissolved over allegations that some of its members were “illegitimate parents”.

“The parents were so incensed to the point where they were forced to speak in a manner they normally shy away from. They agreed that if the circuit manager doubts their children’s DNA she should come to their bedrooms and witness them making babies so that she can be sure that these are legitimate parents.

“It is a grave insult for a parent to cast doubts over the legitimacy of other parents. The circuit manager is clearly sidestepping the issues that we have raised concerning her behaviour when it comes to teachers who are
purposely sabotaging the future of our learners,” said SGB chairperson Joseph Makofane.

Makofane said the parents were not accusing Nake of any involvement in the plot to oust the principal but were simply questioning her actions.

“The principal has written to the circuit manager countlessly because he has been concerned about teachers who tell him they will not teach subjects they did not study for. It is the responsibility of the circuit to enforce the warning letters that the
principal has written to the defiant teachers.

“Instead, the older teachers even brag that the circuit manager is their former schoolmate. The entire tussle is costing our children and we cannot allow it to go any further. Someone needs to step in and save the situation because we have offered support to the teachers,” said Makofane.

According to the SGB, the school produced an overall 48% pass rate in 2021 and improved to 63% in 2022 after it hired a head of department for the school. However, the results of the past two quarters have left parents concerned, forcing them to prevent their children from going to school until the issues have been resolved.

“We have a class of 83 children where only four passed their first quarter exams, and we have a class of 79 children where only five passed their first quarter exams. The results of the second quarter were worse, and this angered parents because it has become clear that the children won’t make it at the end of the year,” he said.

Makofane said the school had two break-ins this year. During the first break-in, only school management documents were stolen. During the second break-in, computers, laptops, money, and documents were stolen.

“The second break-in was suspicious. On the day of the incident, the key was not placed where it is normally placed. Shockingly, when they stole money from the safe, they also stole documents that later resurfaced as an inquiry from the circuit. Parents want to understand how the circuit manager ended up writing a query based on the same information that disappeared from the safe.

“How did the circuit know about such information when police are still looking for those who broke in and took the documents?” he asked.

The SGB said they were hard done because Nake has avoided meeting with the parents to give them a better explanation about what was going on.

Attempts to obtain comment from Nake proved fruitless as her two phones rang unanswered. Limpopo education department spokesperson Mike Maringa was yet to respond to a media inquiry sent on the matter.

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