The Regulation of Educator Misconduct in Public Schools

Authors Cecile de Villiers & Christoph Garbers

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Postdoctoral Fellow in Law, Stellenbosch University; Associate Professor, Stellenbosch University
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 44 Issue 4, 2023, p. 2079 – 2109


The individual educator and her or his conduct are of central importance to the delivery of a quality basic education. This calls for a clear and co-ordinated response to address and prevent inappropriate educator conduct. Three broad deficiencies in current education legislation are identified. First, legislation provides for two types of educator, two different employers and two different sets of rules applicable to educator conduct in the same workplace. Secondly, the rules regulating the conduct of departmental educators contain an inappropriate legislative distinction between and description of ‘serious misconduct’ and ‘misconduct’, an unnecessary range of sanctions between a final written warning and dismissal and deficiencies in procedure. Thirdly, despite a clear overlap between the responsibilities of the employers of educators and the professional body for education, there is inadequate alignment between their roles, while gaps remain. The analysis relies not only on the provisions of the legislation itself, but also statistics and arbitration awards emanating from the Education Labour Relations Council. We argue that education legislation fosters an inappropriate managerial response to educator misconduct and suggestions for improvement are made.