Trouble at St Andrews Primary: Parents drag school to court

Guards at St Andrews manhandled a teacher

Parents of learners at St Andrews International Primary School in Blantyre have dragged the school to court over the illegal appointment of the board of trustees which the parents say is failing to take action on several issues including dismissal of teachers, allegations of an affair between headteacher and a junior employee, and the manhandling of a teacher at the school.

The parents have also protested  against the decision by the school to change uniform and logo without consulting parents.

Over 80 parents have since obtained an injunction restraining eight trustees from acting or executing duties as trustees of St Andrews International Primary School.

The injunction is dated August 22, 2022 and the school has been advised to file defence within 28 days or default judgement will be entered on the reliefs sought by the parents.

The parents want the court to declare that the eight trustees, who are among defendants in the case, are illegal trustees and cannot continue running the affairs of the school. They also want the trustees to account for money and property of the school during their tenure of office.

The parents have also asked the court to order the headteacher of the school, Naomi Charles, a defendant in the case, to write the Ministry of Education and ask the Local Government Authority to appoint a School Management Committee.

In their application, the parents argue that the current trustees were appointed illegally and because of this they have not been accountable to parents who are in the dark on how the trust fund is being managed.

Parents also argue that the board has been running the school in  a laissez-faire manner as evidenced by failure to investigate allegations that the headteacher of the school is in an affair with her junior and failure to take action on the manhandling of a member of staff by guards who were allegedly acting on instructions from the headteacher.

One of the documents submitted in court is a letter by the parents to the headteacher Naomi Charles dated July 5 in which the parents raised concerns over several issues at the school.

Among the issues is the resignation of veteran teachers and suspension of some teachers as a result of investigations into alleged misconduct by the teachers.

“The emotional distress caused to them during the period of suspension has been extreme with no comfort of being awarded to parents with regard to the integrity of teaching to our wards,” reads part of the letter.

According to the parents, the alleged affair between the headteacher and a junior employee was revealed through what was termed by the school as a “malicious email” to parents.

The school later informed parents it would investigate to find the author of the email. However, parents only learned later that some teachers had been suspended.

“As parents whose children are under the care of some of the staff that have been suspended, and a headteacher who is alleged to be in an inappropriate relationship with a junior member of staff, we consider that the school should have reassured our confidence in the school by informing us the outcome of the investigations and what course of action was taken.

“The voluntary departure of several excellent teachers and the yet to be warranted suspension or dismissal of other teachers leaves concerned parents dismayed and questioning the transparency and accountability of actions implemented by the school  management.

“We are equally disappointed in the manner in which educated Malawian teachers have been persecuted especially at critical stages in our children’s learning that materially affect their performance in defining assessments,” the parents wrote.

The school is yet to comment on the lawsuits.

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