The teacher who was suspended after a racist picture at a school emerged is fighting to have her job back.

Suspended Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen and trade union Solidarity have filed an urgent application for her to be reinstated.

Barkhuizen's suspension was announced on January 10, a day after she shared a picture she took of grade R learners at the school on a parents-teachers WhatsApp group. The image, which later went viral on social media, caused an uproar as it appeared that the four black learners in the class had been seated separately from their white classmates.

The teacher explained that the class where the photograph was taken was not hers but she had simply stood in for her colleague, who was attending to a parent at the time.
According to Barkhuizen, the first person to raise a complaint about the picture was a parent of one of the black learners in the class.

She said the parent called "expressing a clear irritation with what he referred to as a separation of his child and other black learners from the white learners".

Barkhuizen said she tried to explain that this was not the case, adding that the children were moved around during the course of the day depending on the activities under way and the children's needs.

"My explanation again came to naught. [The parent] unfortunately continued with his admonishment … culminating in me advising him to call the headmaster as I was busy with orientation," Barkhuizen said.

The teacher, who has been at the school since 2017, said being branded a racist who  needed to be dealt with through an immediate suspension had caused harm to her.