Acting Principal Suspended After Investigations Into Racism Claims

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The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has taken action against the Acting Principal of Grosvenor Girls High School, after a looking into allegations of racism and financial irregularities. 

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In a media statement 20 July, 2022, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has announced the suspension of Acting Principal, who is also Deputy Principal, Mrs A. Birjraj at Grosvenor Girls High School. 

The investigation conducted by an Independent Panel has been concluded, and the allegations of racism and financial mismanagement were found to be true. The panel discovered that racism is normalised and second nature at the school, resulting in the uncomfortable and discriminatory atmosphere Black learners and employees have been subjected to. 

The Panel also found that "racism at Grosvenor Girls High School is systematic, structural and that white authority dominates all facets at the school." 

In its statement, the Department says that they hope the findings and suspension that came from it "becomes our point of reference for our education system." 

Back in March, the school's principal Linda Jorgensen, had been placed on precautionary suspension due to allegations of racism and irregular financial conduct at the school.  

Jorgensen's suspension in March and Birjraj's suspension today both came from recommendations made by the Independent Panel who took on the responsibility of investigating the case. 

At the time of the precautionary suspension, learners held a hostile demonstration outside the school, complaining that they had been racially discriminated against. The complaints came after claims of unfair treatment towards Black and Coloured learners. 

The Principal had been directly called out by learners for racial discrimination regarding the school's policy on hair, as well as racially-charged phrases that were allegedly made in reference to those students, such as "taxi queens". 

At one point, a fight between two learner added fuel to the fire. One learner told the other that Grosvenor Girls High School is a school for white learners. 

Allegedly, when the Principal was made aware of the fight and the comments made, she reportedly said the learner who made the comment was "entitled to her opinion." 

Parents then called for action to be taken against Jorgensen. Students (present and former) were allowed to submit any relevant information regarding the allegations while the investigation was underway.  

Along with the claims of racism, came the claims of financial mismanagement within the high school. The Independent Panel found the administration to be dishonest, due to irregular procurement processes. 

Accusations of appointing staff members who did not meet the basic requirements were made. 

The Panel then recommended that the Principal and Acting/Deputy Principal "be held liable for all funds paid to any employee who would be found to have been employed into a position without meeting basic requirements", as well as charging the Principal with "misconduct for infractions relating to racism, irregular appointments of employees and financial irregularities."

When the initial claims were made in March, Governing body chairperson Lungile Mafuleka-Sibiya alleged that racism at the school dated back for at least 10 years.

"If you speak to any pupil of colour that has attended this school since then, they will tell you about the racism and discrimination."


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