Newspaper clipping – The Cape Times – 14 October 2008

Court rules school right to expel boy

By Karen Breytenbach

A Fairbairn College pupil who was found guilty of smoking and selling dagga at school and in uniform at a nearby park has failed to have his expulsion overturned in the Cape High Court.

Judge Andre le Grange on Monday said although the boy had a constitutional right to proper basic education, his “serious misconduct” had jeopardized his fellow learners’ equally important right to get an education in a safe environment.
“It appears from the facts of this matter the ills of our society have spilled over onto the grounds of our schools, which ordinarily should be safe havens for education and training. Our learners and more importantly, at high school institutions, must appreciate and understand that misconduct, like in open society, attracts sanctions and in appropriate circumstances, may include expulsion.” Le Grange said expulsion in this case was “not disturbingly inappropriate.”

He dismissed an application brought by the boy’s guardian for the expulsion to be reviewed and set aside. He ruled that she had to bear the costs of the application, brought against Education MEC Yousuf Gabru, provincial education head, Ron Swartz and the governing body of Fairbairn College School in Goodwood.
“The overwhelming majority of parents in South Africa, at great cost and personal sacrifice, only want the best for their children. The applicant 9the boy’s guardian) is no different.”

The judge said the offences committed by the boy were “very serious”, and his continued presence at the school compromised the safe learning of his fellow pupils.

The boy was suspended on May 22. After a disciplinary haring the governing body made a recommendation to expel the boy. He was allowed, by agreement between the parties, to stay until the process had run its course.

Le Grange also rejected allegations by his guardian that the hearing was flawed and procedurally unfair and that the decision to expel was grossly unreasonable. He also disagreed with her allegation that the governing body did not form a quorum, because the majority of the members were present.

The judge said the boy had admitted to smoking dagga. He said the bulk of the evidence supported the conclusion that the boy was selling dagga cigarettes to fellow pupils and therefore the governing body’s findings were correct.
“The proceedings conducted (by the governing body) can hardly be described as procedurally unfair. The argument advanced…that the disciplinary hearing should have been conducted like a Court of Law does not accord with the generally accepted approach to administrative tribunals.”

Other pupils as well as the headmaster, Bernard Marchand, testified against him and were cross-examined.