ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE HEART OF TRUST
Article by: Natalie Müller
Breaking: Disturbing reports have emerged that Sonya de Vynck a teacher at Pinnacle College Kyalami, which falls under a chain of schools owned by Advtech Group, told pupils that she would put her knee on their necks and give them a reason to protest.
The teacher spewed these threats, following the global protests in solidarity to the death of a 46 year old black man named George Floyd, who died a brutal death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, America.
Pinnacle College through its leadership has published and apology to all the parents of students at all their schools. This communication was distributed via email to all the parents. We managed to get a leaked copy of the apology, which confirms that the teacher has suspended with immediate effect.
The letter reads: The Pinnacle Colleges community is deeply shocked by the comments made by one of its teachers at Pinnacle College Kyalami during an online class. We apologise unreservedly for the hurt and distress caused. The teacher has been suspended. The principal has chosen to take special leave after reflecting on her handling of the reports to her. Investigations are urgent and ongoing.
The school confirmed that the Chief Operating Officer Christo de Wit, will take over the reigns of the school in the absence of the current principle.
The Sowetanreported the incident this afternoon, that the life orientation teacher at Pinnacle College Kyalami told pupils during an online conference on Thursday that she would put her knee on their necks and give them a reason to protest.
“I will put my knee on your necks and give you something to protest about”- Sonya de Vynck
The teacher, Sonya de Vynck, later apologised for her comments after pupils and parents reacted with outrage.
“It wasn’t my intention and I didn’t want to put someone down who lost their lives while people were watching and being helpless. I never wanted to offend you. I never wanted to offend Mr Floyd. I would never; I know you need time, but just know that I am not a person like that, I am not a racist person. I would never have done that. It was a silly thing that popped into my head,” she was quoted as saying.
According to one learner, who got in touch with the Fourways Review and asked to remain anonymous, the comment was made while the teacher was requesting they submit their work.
The learner shared the apology message the teacher sent to the learners, however, she feels it is not enough. The learner added that following the incident, she went to the principal to discuss the matter as she was deeply upset about it.
According to the learner, about eight or nine learners attended a meeting with the teacher and the principal. She said that although they felt that the principal took time to listen to the learners’ feelings, she felt that they weren’t being properly heard.
In her apology, the teacher said, “I feel terrible about what I said. It was meant to be a joke. I am not putting down what happened to George Floyd. I do not condone it at all.”
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