Bishop Bavin parents, teachers and staff protest sudden closure

Teachers, parents, staff and learners from the now-closed Bishop Bavin private school in Bedfordview have taken to the streets to protest the sudden decision to shut its doors.

They are concerned that students, particularly matriculants, have nowhere to go. They are also unhappy at lost pay for staff, including some who were already owed back pay prior to the closure.

In addition, parents who paid up front for certain services, including boarding, have apparently been told there will be no refunds.

“23 years’ service @ Bishop Bavin. Single parent. No retrenchment packages. No school for my son” read a placard by one protesting former staff member.

Public protest outside school gate

The allegations and concerns are listed in a statement released prior to the public protest and picket that took place outside the school gate on Friday, 19 June.

Bishop Bavin closed with immediate effect on Thursday, 11 June. The closure was a shock to many in the community, but others said they “seen it coming” as the school, which is operated by the Anglican Church, has been in financial difficulty for some time.

According to the Bedfordview and Edenvale News, the Bishop Bavin School has a current combined deficit of R31.5-million. The Diocese of Johannesburg itself is owed some R15-million by the school.

The newspaper quotes the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, the Right Revd Dr Steve Moreo, as saying in a statement: “The school has been forced to close its doors with immediate effect as a result of a financial crisis.”

Statement released by protest group

“Both parents and teachers were saddened and angered by the church’s announcement especially since the Bishop of the Anglican Church had made a public announcement to all the stakeholders that the school was without any doubt going to continue running in a mere two weeks prior to the shocking closure announcement,” the statement from the protest group reads.

“Parents, learners and teachers are angered by the decision and manner which the Diocese [has] gone about in the closing of the school as they feel lied to and misrepresented. There has been no fair play afforded to any stakeholder, leaving an incredible feeling of foul play in this whole affair.”

Source: Basically Bedfordview Facebook page

The statement continued: “We are inviting the media to cover our story and hear the voices of those individuals who are left with no home, no school, no pay and not even the decency of a notice period including balance payment of what is owed to the staff who were already on back pay.”

Diocese says decision not taken lightly

In a statement issued at the time of closure, the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, the Right Revd Dr Steve Moreo, said the decision to terminate the school’s operations had not been taken lightly.

 “In the final analysis, the Diocese had no other option as the school faced ever-mounting debt without matching income. Three attempts to enter into arrangements with other educational institutions during the past year yielded no results as the terms and conditions had been prejudicial to the church.”

Moreo said the advent of the coronavirus and the lockdown in South Africa further complicated negotiations with interested parties.

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