The two-year stalemate over school principal ends with the judge overruling SGB

Court dismisses school governing board’s quest to have preferred candidate named principal

The Western Cape High Court has dismissed an application by the school governing body (SGB) of Paarlzicht Primary in Paarl in which it sought to set aside the appointment of Gareth Duraan as school principal.

The SGB had preferred another candidate to the one appointed by the Western Cape education head of department in January 2009.

The SGB and the parents had insisted their chosen candidate as principal was Douglas Oormeyer, whom the SGB recommended, together with Duraan, for the position after interviews by the SGB in 2018. Oormeyer is an alumnus of Paarlzicht.

concluded otherwise and said Duraan was the most suitable candidate for the appointment.

In their review application, the SGB asserted the head of department decided to appoint Duraan as a result of bias.

The governing body also said the head of department did so unreasonably and without considering the SGB’s preferred candidate, Oormeyer, by placing too much weight and emphasis on the psychological assessment of Oormeyer and without considering factors indicating Oormeyer was a better candidate than Duraan.

The position for school principal became vacant when the erstwhile principal resigned in July 2018 due to ill health and an advertisement was placed to fill the vacancy.

Following the advertisement, 29 candidates applied for the position and four candidates were shortlisted for interviews.

The governing body thought Oormeyer complied with all the requirements. It claimed Oormeyer performed extremely well in his interview and did far better than Duraan.

The body claimed it only intended to submit the name of Oormeyer for consideration, but  a department official who was monitoring the recruitment process, Naziem Dalvey, interfered in the deliberations of the SGB and insisted Duraan’s name also be submitted to the department head.

On January 26 2019, the head of department appointed Duraan as principal.

The SGB claimed in court that Duraan and the department head had worked together in the West Coast education district and Wynland education district where they were closely acquainted.

It also said Dalvey had a close relationship with Duraan and they were colleagues for years in the Atlantis and Wynland education district offices.

The head of department flatly denied he was acquainted with Duraan as alleged.

“In my view, the SGB failed to prove or adduce any evidence to support its allegation that the department head was in fact acquainted to Mr Duraan.

“Even if the SGB had proved any friendship between the department head and Mr Duraan, which in my view it failed to do, this allegation is unfounded,” acting judge James Lekhuleni said in a judgment passed on Thursday.

Lekhuleni said the allegation that Dalvey insisted on nominating Duraan was unsupported by the facts and evidence before court.

The judge said the department head considered all the factors placed before him and all the documents served before the interviews as well as the CVs of the applicants.

The judge said the department head exercised his discretion fairly in selecting one candidate over the other.

“In my judgment, the decision of the head of department, viewed objectively, is rational and unquestionable.”

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