FAQ

Question 1

The chairman of Koppieskraal Primary School is calling for advice. There is great interest in the election and it appears that there will be many more nominations than vacancies on the SBL. The chairman is excited about the large number of interested parents from the foundation phase, but, on the other hand, is concerned that these parents do not know each other very well. He wants to know to what extent the school can introduce candidates to the parent community without violating any electoral rules.
According to the National "GUIDELINES ON THE ELECTION OF SCHOOL GOVERNING BODIES OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS", parents nominated may be given an opportunity to introduce themselves. It is also advisable, as especially parents in large schools in the city do not necessarily know the candidates chosen by election. Par 12 (3) states as follows: The school electoral officer must explain the procedures to be followed to the election meeting and must make it clear that each nominee will have the opportunity to briefly mention at least the following: (a) His or her name (b) The names and grades of his or her children in school (c) His or her occupation and experience or skills (d) His or her vision for the school This is of course a guideline. If each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present himself / herself, the school is free to add items to the above list (eg current involvement at school such as committees, SGB or other services). At the full day election, the school can introduce the candidates in other ways to the school community, such as by sending the above information via email to all the parents, including a photo of each candidate and placing this information on the notice boards of the school. The most important guideline is to treat all the candidates equally and to get as much information as possible from the school community so that good decisions can be made

Question 2

Koppieskraal High’s SGB chair phones you for advice. With the SGB elections fast approaching, he is contacting potential candidates. However, some candidates are concerned that they will not have enough time to perform all SGB functions, and want to know whether SGB members may delegate responsibilities to others, and if so, to whom.
Of course, the SGB alone cannot perform all the functions imposed on it by SASA. In fact, it isn’t the SGB’s role to try and perform all these tasks. The SGB rather plays an oversight role, and therefore needs to delegate. The designated person to whom the SGB should delegate the function to implement policy and strategy is the principal. In turn, this does not mean that the principal alone should personally perform all the functions concerned. It does however mean that the principal is the focal point of accountability and responsibility in the school setup. In respect of the professional part of school governance and management (i.e. classroom teaching), the principal accounts to the Head of Education, and in respect of the other aspects of school governance and management, the principal reports to the governing body. One should also take note of the provisions of section 19(2) of SASA. That section provides as follows: “(2) The Head of Department must ensure that principals and other officers of the education department render all necessary assistance to governing bodies in the performance of their functions in terms of this Act.” This implies that the SGB actually has the permission of the Head of Education, as the principal’s employer, to delegate functions to the principal. However, delegation does not mean abdication. The SGB may delegate the performance of duties to the school principal, but does not escape accountability and responsibility. Finally a well-functioning governing body will also have committees, which will assist it in performing its functions. The SGB will be able to delegate some functions to these committees as well. For the composition and functioning of these committees, please consult the FEDSAS website. Important, final liability and accountability will always rest with the SGB, and therefore an SGB may withdraw delegations from the school principal or a committee when circumstances require.

Question 3

Koppieskraal High’s governing body election is scheduled for Friday. There are 12 educators appointed by the school, and 32 educators on the state’s establishment. The school principal is not sure whether those educators additional to the state’s establishment may be elected as educators on the governing body. Advise the school principal.
The South African Schools Act refers to educators only, and does not draw any distinction between departmental appointments and educators additional to the state’s establishment. Therefore, any educators may be elected as educators on the governing body.

Question 4

The principal of Koppieskraal Primary School is calling for advice. The school has a large residence and he wants to know whether the residential staff should also have representatives on the SBL.
All non-educators (including the residence staff) who work at the school are entitled to be a candidate in the election in the non-educator category on the governing body. If no person is elected from the residence, the SGB may co-opt such person or use the hostel committee to include the residential staff. See Art 23 (6) and Art 30 of the Schools Act.

Question 5

Koppieskraal Primary’s SGB chair phones you for advice. The SGB is ready for the elections and notices have been sent out. However, they have now received an enquiry from the legal guardians of two learners, and the school is not sure how to deal with the matter. The grandparents are the legal guardians, and are recorded as the parents in the school’s register. The biological parents reside in another province, but will incidentally be in town on the day of the elections and would like to take part. The SGB wants to know how they should deal with the matter.
In short, the interpretation of the definition of parent is not an ‘and/or’ interpretation, but rather ‘the one or the other’, where the one excludes the other. The word ‘or’ is therefore exclusive. A child can have only two parents. Should there be guardians as well as parents, they must decide amongst themselves which two will vote. Even though the school register will serve as the basis, it would be very difficult to deny the biological parents the right to vote on the day.

Question 6

Koppieskraal Primary’s SGB chair phones you for advice. Five parents must be elected, but only five nominations have been received. What should they do?
The reply refers to the national guidelines, but each province should also consult their own regulations in this regard. Should the total number of candidates whose nominations have been approved: • fall short of the prescribed number of SGB members, a new election must be called within 21 days, where no quorum will be required; • be equal to the prescribed number of SGB members, the electoral officer must declare all the nominees duly elected members; or • exceed the prescribed number of SGB members as determined in respect of the relevant category, an election meeting must be held as a second part of the procedure

Question 7

The principal of Koppieskraal Primary School is calling for advice. He is the electoral officer at the high school and only recently completed the training. The Department's regulations stipulate that no more than twice the number of vacancies available may be nominated. Therefore, if 6 parents are to be elected, no more than 12 nominations may be submitted.
Article 19 of the Constitution provides for the following: Political Rights 19 (3) Every adult citizen has the right to- (b) be a candidate for public office and to hold office if elected. The governing body election falls within this provision because each member of the governing body holds a public office and this right cannot be restricted to any provincial regulation. The province's regulation is therefore unconstitutional, and therefore any number of candidates can be nominated.

Question 8

Koppieskraal Primary’s school principal calls you for advice. She wants to know whether the Grade R parents may participate in the governing body election, and how the number of learners in the Grade R class will affect the number of learners in the school for the purposes of the election.
In Section 1 of the South African Schools Act (SASA), a school is defined as “a public school or an independent school which enrols learners in one or more grades from grade zero [Grade R] to grade twelve”. All the parents on the school’s admission register may therefore participate in the election and are eligible for election onto the governing body. The number of learners in Grade R is regarded as part of the total number of learners that would determine the size of the governing body.

Question 9

Koppieskraal High’s governing body election took place on Friday, and the new governing body’s first meeting to elect the different office-bearers is scheduled for next Thursday only. The school principal wants to know which governing body is responsible until Thursday: the old one or the newly elected one?
The old governing body stops functioning the moment the new one is announced. The term ‘constitute’ really only refers to an election of office-bearers and should in no way be seen as the starting point or commencement of a new governing body. A governing body’s term of office is three years. If that term lapses prior to the next election, there simply is no governing body. See the judgement in the matter Stutterheim High School v. MEC Eastern Cape.

Question 10

Koppieskraal High’s principal calls you and seems very worried. A departmental official told him that the Department has not yet ratified his school’s new governing body, and urgently awaits the names so that a legal governing body could be established. The principal tells you that their governing body has already held four meetings as well as a strategic summit over the weekend. The principal wants to know whether this means that none of their resolutions can be enforced.
The South African Schools Act requires no ratification of a governing body by any department. As soon as the governing body election results have been announced, the newly and lawfully elected governing body must immediately commence with their activities. The requirement in some provinces that the names of governing body members must be submitted to the Department within 14 days of the election is for administrative purposes only and in no way affects the legality of the governing body. There is therefore nothing to ratify.

Question 11

The chairman of Koppieskraal High School calls for advice. The governing body was recently elected, and he was elected as chairman at the first meeting. He noted that the law does not provide for the election of a vice-chairman and wants to know if they acted incorrectly by electing a vice-chairman.
The Schools Act stipulates as follows: 29 Officials of governing bodies (1) A governing body must elect office-bearers and must include at least one chairman, treasurer and secretary. There is no barrier to the election of a vice-chairman and it is simply very practical to elect one.