A Gauteng college has left parents upset following revelations that a Grade 9 student was humiliated after urinating on herself in the classroom because the school allegedly forbids learners from using the restroom during lessons.
The incident occurred at Cornerstone College in Silverton, Pretoria, a few weeks ago but was revealed during a recent confrontation between parents and the school administration.
One of the angry parents, Pulane Thibakhoane, said the school went further to charge the victim and her cousin for using a cellphone to report the matter to their parents during school hours.
“The girl was humiliated, so her siblings and niece comforted her and kept her from becoming a laughingstock. She called her mother on my niece’s phone to explain.
“We went to the school with other parents, and a few days later we received letters saying the learners’ contracts had been terminated so that they couldn’t return next year,” said Thabakhoane.
African Times learned that the school administration grew confrontational when the parents raised the problem of student victimisation.
Thabakoane added that a woman claiming to be from the Gauteng Department of Education advised her to fix the issues with the school management before taking action.
“The lady said settling the situation would be better than taking action. I told her I would not do that; all I wanted was an end to child abuse. No law bans kids from using the restroom in class,” she stated.
One parent whose daughter challenged the school management received a contract termination notice.
“We hereby confirm that we will not contract with you for 2024, or in future years. We trust that [your daughter] will complete the year successfully. Sadly some learners decide not to cooperate with the school after this letter is issued. Please note that any misbehaviour of [your daughter] from now until the end of the year will not be tolerated. Any lack of cooperation with contractual procedures by parents, guardians, or associates will be regarded as a breach of contract. Either of these events may regretfully lead to an earlier termination of the contract or legal action.”
The Grade 9 victim’s mother initially agreed to speak with this newspaper but later disappeared.
Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steven Mabona confirmed the incident.
“The department is aware and disturbed by an unfortunate incident whereby a learner was allegedly not permitted to use the toilet at Cornerstone College. Consequently, our officials were dispatched to the said school to investigate the circumstances around this matter, and all other allegations.
“The outcomes thereof will be communicated in due course. Accordingly, psycho-social support will be offered to the affected learner. It must be noted that a school can terminate a contract with a learner, based on gross misconduct as outlined in a school’s code of conduct. However, all allegations are under investigation, to ascertain the facts,” said Mabona.
Cornerstone College director Dr. Rob Hurlin refuted denying students toilet access during class.
He instead stated that before class, the learner asked the teacher to use the restroom and that the teacher gave her permission right away.
“The girl said that she wanted to go five minutes before the end of the lesson. When the time came, she put up her hand but did not get the teacher’s attention as she was busy with other learners. Sadly, the girl then wet herself. The teacher immediately took the girl to the bathroom, while covering her with a jacket,” Hurlin.
Hurlin said the teacher had a maid bring a clean change of clothes while the school laundered and returned the wet clothes the next day.
He said the school apologised twice to the learner’s mother for the humiliation.
When asked about the learners’ contracts, he said they may stay at the college until December 8.
He further claimed that the parents had a sit-in at the school, violating the college’s code of conduct, which states that grievances should be done in writing.
“As a result of the parent’s refusal to cooperate with the school and follow the school code of conduct, they were notified that the school would not enter into a contract next year,” Hurlin said.