Schools cannot withhold repord cards over unpaid school fees

Schools cannot withhold repord cards over unpaid school fees

No school is entitled to withhold the report cards of school pupils if their parents have not paid outstanding school fees, Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schafer said on Sunday.

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Schools would issue report cards to pupils across the province this week when the academic year ended for pupils on Wednesday, she said in a statement.

“My office received a number of complaints from parents last year that schools had refused to release their children’s report cards because the parents had not paid outstanding school fees. This practice is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” she said.

However, the department was aware that in some cases, schools asked parents to fetch the cards. They then used this opportunity to discuss outstanding fees. Schools denied that they were withholding report cards in these cases.

There was nothing preventing a school from requiring parents to collect the reports at school. If the reports were then withheld for any reason, the department would investigate complaints and take further action as required, Schafer said.

“While I understand and sympathise with many schools that are battling to collect school fees from parents, especially when some parents can clearly afford them, discriminating against a learner for the financial decisions or position of a parent will not be tolerated.

“I therefore appeal to all parents to report such a practice to their nearest district office should this be happening in their child’s school. I also urge all principals to release learners’ report cards on the date specified. I would, however, like to appeal to parents to try and settle their outstanding fees, if they are in the position to do so,” she said.

Parents were reminded that schools could take legal action against parents owing fees and who did not qualify for exemption or partial exemption. School fees remained an important source of additional funds in public schools and the school governing body had every right to take legal steps to recover those fees.

Parents could, however, qualify for exemption if the school fees were more than 10 percent of the parents’ combined annual salary.

“Therefore, there are processes in place to assist parents who genuinely cannot afford their school fees. We are also cognisant of the fact that some parents’ financial positions can change overnight. Regardless of the parent’s financial position, our principals cannot discriminate against our learners. Parents are requested to contact the district office to lodge complaints,” Schafer said.

File Photo: Gallo Images 

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