Education chiefs bring in retired officials to probe Sun Valley ...

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Education chiefs bring in retired officials to probe Sun Valley Primary

Investigation of no-homework school follows preliminary probe into principal's income and his son's conduct

Cape Town bureau chief


The Western Cape education department has brought in two “retired and respected” officials to investigate a school where nine teachers quit at the end of 2018.
Sun Valley Primary, in Fish Hoek, where the long-serving principal is Gavin Keller, will be investigated by a former deputy director-general and a former district director.
Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the investigation followed a preliminary probe by the manager of a circuit outside the Metro South area where Sun Valley falls.
“The report recommended that many of the allegations be investigated further due to limited capacity and time,” she said.
Times Select has learnt that the two officials investigating Sun Valley have been issued with terms of reference and began work this week. “It is unclear when the investigation will be completed,” said Hammond.
The nine education department teachers who left Sun Valley in December included all four Grade 2 teachers and the heads of grades 4 and 5.
Hammond said no exit interviews had been conducted. “The majority indicated in their resignation letters that they were either moving abroad or to another province, and were extremely complimentary towards the school,” she said.
The department’s preliminary investigation covered: The relationship between the state-owned Sun Valley Primary and a neighbouring private high school, Silvermine Academy, where Keller, 60, is the CEO;
Allegations of nepotism. Keller’s son Brad is employed at Sun Valley. 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. Amy is also a former employee;
Keller’s sources of income. The department confirmed to Times Select in 2018 that Keller had not declared four sources on top of his salary as principal, including three from Silvermine Academy;
Allegations of misconduct against Keller’s son, Brad, who was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to female teachers; and
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.

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