NELSON Mandela Bay's iconic Newell High School was without a principal this week after he was given his marching orders by angry parents who accused him of undermining them, while teachers claimed he embezzled school funds.
Principal Cosmo Baartman was kicked out of school last Friday after initially being told to hand over the school's keys and vacate his office a few days earlier.
While Baartman had previously been fined R14000 by the district Education Department for poor financial management five years ago, the department said they had not yet found any concrete evidence to support the latest claim.
District director Nyathi Ntsiko said they were under pressure from parents to resolve the matter urgently.
"We are trying to deal with this matter, which we find to be quite sensitive, as the community is getting extremely impatient," he said.
"The main complaint from parents was the claim that he was using money indiscriminately and then having an attitude when asked to account for it.
"We are seriously looking into this because the issue of financial mismanagement has arisen before and [Baartman] was taken to a disciplinary hearing."
Baartman was hauled before the department's disciplinary committee in 2007 for poor financial management after he was found to have used money from school coffers without authorisation from the governing body.
A department official, who did not want to be named, said: "The money was not necessarily fraudulently used, but proper procedure was not followed in releasing the funds."
Sources close to the school said the group of disgruntled parents arrived at the school and ordered Baartman to leave and never come back.
Baartman confirmed this, saying he had handed the matter over to the department offices for their intervention.
"[The parents] have raised issues from the past and I have appealed to the department to intervene," he said.
"There is no embezzlement. I don't know what money has been unlawfully spent, on what, by whom and for what."
The school's governing body (SGB) chairman, Songezo Mphanda, said he had got wind of the allegations at an earlier meeting, but said it was found to be an old grudge that teachers held against the principal.
"Parents wrote a letter to the SGB complaining about the principal's undermining attitude towards them," he said.
"The teachers seem to be spurring on some parents to raise the money issue."
A teacher, who declined to be named, said: "Parents said that when they ask how money is spent, he [Baartman] dismisses them and says he will not answer to a bunch of illiterate people."