‘Insubordinate’ principal happy to end dispute

Rivonia Primary School's principal is eager to put her disciplinary hearing behind her.

Rivonia Primary principal Carol Drysdale speaks to her lawyers during a disciplinary hearing on 11 September 2012. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Rivonia Primary School principal Carol Drysdale on Wednesday told Eyewitness News she was looking forward to putting her disciplinary hearing behind her and going back to running her school.

In a surprise twist, the Gauteng Department of Education agreed to settle her case on Wednesday, having charged her with insubordination and misconduct.

The case followed the school's failed attempt to keep out a grade one pupil last year.

As part of the settlement, Drysdale changed her plea to guilty, and in doing so escaped the risk of losing her job.

In return, the harshest punishment she faces is a final written warning and a fine.

Drysdale said: "[The hearing] has been incredibly difficult, but it has been an eye-opener.

"I just want to thank all of those people who have supported me through this ordeal. I look forward to going back to what I love doing, and that is being at my school and being with my children."

She admitted she did not know about a certain regulation that put her in the wrong.

The Education Department's spokesperson, Charles Phahlane, maintained disciplinary action against her was not part of a witch-hunt.

"We feel that this sanction will send a clear message that the head of department is the final authority."

The department's intervention saw the girl placed in a classroom, but led to an ongoing court battle on who determines the school's enrolment policies and limitations.

Both sides will now submit arguments over her sanction, and a ruling will be made within several weeks.

Meanwhile, the school's governing body is appealing a decision made by the High Court in Johannesburg. The court ruled that it is the department's decision to decide when learner applicants can be turned down.

The governing body claims the girl enrolled at the school late and was only placed there because of her "politically connected" parents.