THE hotly contested question over how much power a school governing body – which represents parents – should have over school policies was back in the limelight yesterday.
The Constitutional Court was asked to decide whether the Free State Education Department head was correct to override two governing bodies which had excluded pregnant pupils from the schools.
Yesterday's case is one of three court battles between provincial education departments and governing bodies over who has the power to create school policies.
The cases include the Rivonia Primary School battle on admissions policies and Fochville High School and the Gauteng Education Department over an Afrikaans-only language policy.
Yesterday, the court heard that if the Free State head of department had not intervened and overruled the governing bodies, both pregnant girls would have had to repeat a year of schooling.
In 2010, a Harmony High School Grade 11 pupil gave birth in July and returned to school. However, she was told in October she had to leave school for the rest of the year and repeat the grade in 2011.
In the Welkom High School case, a Grade 9 pupil was due to give birth in December 2010 but was told by the school she had to stay away from September until April.
Both the high court and Supreme Court of Appeal did not rule on whether the governing body policies excluding pregnant pupils were unconstitutional and illegal.
In both courts, judges stuck to the legal question over whether the head of department could override a school governing body policy.
They found the HoD had acted unlawfully when he did so and forced schools to readmit the pregnant pupils.
No national regulations exist on a pupil pregnancy policy.