Newspaper clipping – The Cape Argus – 15 January 2009

Rows flare over Cape teacher appointments

By Ilse Fredericks and Fouzia van der Fort

An increasing number of schools are complaining about the interventionist role that the provincial education department is playing over teacher appointments, with at least two disputes currently at the High Court.

The chief complaint from school governing bodies (SGBs) is that their preferred candidates for posts are being declined by the department.

Paul Colditz, chief executive of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas), said more complaints (to Fedsas) about the department appointing a candidate other than an SGB-preferred candidate were received from the Western Cape than any other province.
            “This is a big problem in the Western Cape. The department does not pay attention to appointment procedures,” he said.

Colditz said Fedsas recommended that SGBs take their complaints to court, but not all could afford to do so.

Two SGBs in the Western Cape have recently taken their fights to the Cape High Court. In one case, the department appointed a coloured man while the SGB’s preferred candidate was a white woman. In the other case, the SGB recommended a man but the department wanted to appoint a woman.

Colditz said Fedsas continually received complaints from the province. He said the department should have learned from the Point High School case. Last year, after a lengthy legal battle, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein gave the Point SGB the go-ahead to appoint their preferred candidates as principal and deputy-principal.
            “The quality of education depends on the quality of the teacher,” he said.

But spokesperson Millicent Merton has hit back, saying that the WCED was obliged to make appointments with due regard to the employment equity directives applicable to the filling of posts in the government service. She said legislation provided that the school governing bodies submit three nominees, in order of preference, but that the WCED could appoint any one of the candidates to the post concerned. If the WCED was obliged to always appoint the SGB’s preferred candidate, then there would have been no reason for school governing bodies to nominate three candidates, Merton argued.

In one court case, the WCED notified the lawyers of Eikendal Primary School in Kraaifontein on Wednesday that they would stand by their decision to appoint Hilary Petersen as deputy principal. This comes a month after the department hired her instead of the SGB’s preferred candidate, Calvyn James Solomons.

This week the school applied to the Cape High Court to have Petersen’s appointment set aside and to have Solomons take up the position as deputy principal.