A geography teacher at St Johnâ€™s College (SJC) in Johannesburg, Keith Arlow, resigned on Friday for making racist comments and â€œbringing the school into disreputeâ€. This was following pressure from government, old boys and parents.
The spokesperson of the Gauteng MEC of education, Steve Mabona, confirmed to the Daily Vox that Arlow has been fired by the school. However, the school later released a statement saying that the teacher resigned by mutual agreement.
Lesufi met with the schoolâ€™s council after concerned parents sent him a letter and asked him to intervene in the teacherâ€™s disciplinary process as they felt the schoolâ€™s conduct was flawed. Lesufi visited the school to hear its justification for keeping him on as a teacher.
Speaking on Eusebius McKaiserâ€™s show on 702 on Friday morning, Lesufi highlighted three issues with the way SJC handled the situation:
1. The school chose an adult over children, allowing a teacher who treats black students as subhuman on school premises;
2. If the school had found this particular teacher guilty, by law they are compelled to report the matter to the South African Council of Educators – a body that regulates conduct of teachers. They failed to do this; and
3. The short statement by school addressing the issue and parents complaints undermined the public and the dignity of the children involved.
Lesufi told McKaiser that he had advised the school to fire the teacher. â€œWe told them to reverse their position,â€ Lesufi said, â€œthere is no way that we can accept the decision currently.â€
If the school fails to address the issue properly, Lesufi said the department would intervene in Arlowâ€™s disciplinary hearing and deal with it through its own processes.
On Friday morning a few parents picketed outside the school and left placard outside that read, â€œYes to transformationâ€ and â€œLetâ€™s all interrogate our own racismâ€.
â€” Mabine Seabe II (@Mabine_Seabe) July 28, 2017
Learners also boycotted inter-house athletics in protest of the schoolâ€™s decision.
â€œWe refused to let St Johnâ€™s go on as if it was business as usual,â€ a learner told the Daily Vox. Many of the boys were upset as the schoolâ€™s head boy was not allowed into the meeting with Lesufi, despite being a council member.
â€” Gauteng Education (@EducationGP) July 28, 2017
The school responded to the complaints of the parents in a short letter to the school community. In the letter, headmaster Paul Edey said “…the staff member has been found guilty of serious misconduct and, having taken into account a number of mitigating factors, has been issued with a final written warning”. Arlowâ€™s salary and benefits were initially reduced and he was stripped of senior positions, said Edey in the letter.
Agreed and I’m tired of children having to take time from their education to fight for human dignity. https://t.co/CA6FzZPLm4
â€” Sadie Torquato (@SadieWiggles) July 28, 2017