One in three teachers flee troubled WCape school
Sun Valley Primary hit by walkouts as education department continues to probe allegations against head
Nine teachers have resigned from a Cape Town school at the centre of an investigation by the Western Cape education department.
The teachers leaving Sun Valley Primary at the end of the year include the heads of grades 2, 4 and 5. The other three Grade 2 teachers at the Fish Hoek school are also going, and the former Grade 6 head left in the middle of the year.
There are 28 class teachers at Sun Valley, which means nearly a third have resigned over the last three weeks.
The education department did not respond in detail to a question from Times Select about whether this was either unusual or a crisis.
“Resignations do not necessarily mean there is a specific gripe or problem with the school or school management,” said department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond.
She said the seven teachers whose resignations had been received at the time questions were submitted “allegedly indicated that they have enjoyed their time at Sun Valley and valued the learning opportunities”.
In an end-of-term newsletter, principal Gavin Keller explained the departures by saying: “A number of our teaching staff have been bitten by the travel bug,” and announced their replacements.
The education department is investigating several matters involving Keller and the management of the school, including:
The relationship between the state-owned Sun Valley Primary and a neighbouring private high school, Silvermine Academy, where Keller is the CEO.
Allegations of nepotism. Keller’s son Brad is employed at Sun Valley. Meanwhile, the private academy employs Keller’s wife, Heather, and Brad’s wife, Cath. Its principal is Mandy Pistorius, the mother of Keller’s other daughter-in-law, Amy. She is also a former employee.
Keller’s sources of income. The department has confirmed to Times Select that Keller has not declared four sources of income, additional to the salary he earns as principal of the public primary school, Sun Valley.
Allegations of misconduct against Keller’s son, Brad, who was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to female teachers.
Claims that the state school does not follow the national curriculum; and that Keller forces teachers to pay the school for taking a day’s leave.
The issues under investigation by the department include claims that Keller, 59, has four sources of income that he has not declared, as required under the government’s Remunerative Work Outside Public Service (RWOPS) programme:..