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Teacher fired...via SMS

Teacher Arlene Nel said her only sin was refusing to tamper with the marks of the principal's son.

The Department of Education in the Northern Cape might have its assets attached for failing to compensate a teacher after she was fired via SMS by a principal. Picture: Zama Ndlovu/Youth Lab.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Education in the Northern Cape might have its assets attached for failing to compensate a teacher after she was fired via SMS by a principal.

Arlene Nel said her only sin was refusing to tamper with the marks of the principal's son.

Nel and spokesperson for Northern Cape Education Sidney Stander spoke to Talk at Nine's John Webb.

She taught the boy life sciences last year but he failed the final exam.

"The only way he could pass was if he received 100% for every assignment for the year. The principal is a life sciences teacher himself and insisted I remark the assignments."

When she refused, he allegedly started harassing her.

He sent her an SMS in January when the school reopened saying her services were no longer needed.

In May, the Education Labour Relations Council ordered the department to compensate her with three months' salary, because she was dismissed for failing to heed the principal's demands.

Nel, who has a degree in chemical biology, was one of 10 temporary teachers at the school. She said the school governing body had recommended that all 10 of them remain in their posts this year.

"I took the matter to Solidarity and they fought the case for me and won. I was supposed to be paid my salary but that still hasn't happened."

Solidarity's Johan Kruger said, ''Should the department again fail to respond, we will obtain a warrant of execution and attach the department's assets.''

The ordeal left Nel, 27, so traumatised she went into labour early, she said. "I depended on my salary to care for my newborn baby. All of a sudden I was without a job."

Asked if there was any action taken against the principal, Nel said he was still teaching.

"I feel sad and worried for the children because they deserve an honourable principal who will want the best not only for his child but for all children."

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for Northern Cape Education Sidney Stander said there was never a dismissal as Nel was appointed as a temporary teacher and "there was no obligation for her to return in 2013 as her contract ended in December 2012."

Asked about Nel's compensation Stander said, "We wrote a letter to her and apologised for the inconvenience and her salary will be paid by Friday."

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