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'Ruling is a victory for all Model-C schools'

The Supreme Cout ruled that all public schools have the final say in admissions.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. Picture: Supplied by the court.

JOHANNESBURG - Rivonia Primary School on Friday said its victory in the Supreme Court of Appeal will ripple through every former Model-C school in South Africa.

The court in Bloemfontein found the Gauteng Education Department (GDE) acted unlawfully in forcing the school to admit a grade one pupil last year.

The school claimed its ability to provide a quality education was at risk while the department argued it has a duty to place every child in the province in a school.

The department said it will respond to the ruling after studying the judgment.

The five Supreme Court of Appeal judges made it crystal clear that public schools have the final say in how many pupils they admit.

The court slammed the actions of the department as high-handed and ruled government must pay the legal costs of both sides.

Rivonia Primary School's lawyer Paul Latergan said, "This is not a victory for just Rivonia, but a victory for every Model-C school in the country."

He said they were thrilled the court found this battle had nothing to do with race and could have happened at any school in the country.

It remains to be seen whether the GDE will take this fight to the Constitutional Court.

Meanwhile, the judgment may also lead to the withdrawal of disciplinary charges against school Principal Carol Drysdale who is still waiting to be sanctioned.

Latergan said the legal team will on Monday write a letter to the GDE requesting them to withdraw all charges against the principal.

"She really had a gun held against her head when we pleaded guilty at that stage."