Principal of ‘corrupt’ Glenvista High suspended

The Gauteng education department has suspended the principal of embattled Glenvista High School for allegedly receiving payments for work she did not do, in the latest controversy to hit the school.

“According to the department, she was put on precautionary transfer to the district office for a period of 90 days pending a disciplinary inquiry,” school governing body (SGB) chairperson Prince Maluleke told the Mail & Guardian.

The M&G has also seen a notice to parents dated September 11 saying Yolinda de Jongh’s suspension was effective from September 14 and is a result of the findings and recommendations of a report by auditors KPMG.

The report was completed following a forensic audit of all financial decisions made by the SGB, including de Jongh, between 2012 and 2014. It revealed alleged financial misconduct on a potentially huge scale, involving millions of rands.

Among others, one of the findings said “the principal received payments for accounting classes that she did not provide which was in contravention of her employment contact”.

Other findings included:

  • Funds being used for payments of levies of an individual’s holiday home;
  • Installation of a carport using school funds;
  • Hunting fees paid using the school’s staff loan account;
  • And school funds being used to buy plane tickets for an individual’s private use.

‘Worst, corrupt school’
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the corruption amounted to “millions” and described the school as the “worst, corrupt school I have ever come across”. He told media at the same briefing he would be opening a criminal and civil case against the former principal and former SGB.

His office had not responded to several requests for comment by the time of publishing and De Jongh’s former office at the school said only the SGB could respond to questions about her.

Deputy Principal, Godfrey Molaotse, was made acting principal, the notice to parents said.

No stranger to controversy
According to the Facebook page Parents of Glenvista High School, as well as a March 8 Sunday Times article, a parent complained at the end of last year to the SA Human Rights Commission about gender discrimination at the school. 

The complaint related to the unequal allocation of funds to girls hockey, compared to boys hockey. Following a mediation, the school agreed in December to provide coaches to the girls hockey sides who had equivalent qualifications as those coaching the boys, the Facebook page said.

In September 2013, the school also suspended a grade eight pupil for attacking a teacher with a broom and a chair. The attack was caught on video which soon went viral.

Wider trend?
In response to the “shock” findings of the audit into the school’s financials, Lesufi told the press he was considering assessing all ex-Model C schools for financial irregularities.

“I’ve instructed the head of department to sample some of our schools. We might have to have a broader-based investigation in all our former Model C schools to check whether this is not a trend,” Eyewitness News reported him as saying.

Five days later, he launched the SGB financial support project in partnership with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

A departmental press release said the project aimed to “capacitate SGBs with financial management and reporting skills” and would see a total of 53 chartered accountants being seconded to schools to provide SGBs with support “in terms of providing basic tools and skills that will allow them to properly oversee their school’s financial affairs”.

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