Proper control and management of a school is the difference between a functional and a dis-functional school. The importance of a good relationship between a principal and the governing body, for the proper functioning of a school, cannot be emphasized enough. This relationship can often be impaired by interference from the department of education acting as the principal’s employer. The principal will receive one assignment from the department and another assignment from the governing body, contrary to the assignment of the department. Section 16(2) of the Schools Act stipulates that a governing body stands in a position of trust towards the school. This provision also applies to the principal, as a member of the governing body. The principal can thus receive conflicting assignments from the department and the governing body because their interests differ. Section 23(1) of the Constitution states that “Everyone has the right to fair labour practice”. The Constitution does not define “fair labour practice”. The definition that applied when the Constitution was written, was the definition contained in the Labour Relations Act 1991. It can be argued that the legislature had this definition in mind when section 23(1) was drafted. Should the definition be accepted one can argue that the department is placing the principal in an intolerable work situation, because in terms of legislation, the principal is expected to give effect to two conflicting commands. The principal will either give effect to the department`s wishes out of fear for a disciplinary hearing should he not obey his employer, which goes against his obligation in terms of section 16(2), or he will choose to act in accordance with section 16(2) and place the interests of the school above the interests of the department and disregard his duty as an employee of the department. In both these situations the employment relationship between the principal and department will be affected adversely and constitute an unfair labour practice and an infringement of the principal’s right in terms of section 23 of the Constitution. This dissertation sets out the different functions and roles of the parties involved in education. As in any relationship, conflict is inevitable, and the relationship between the Department of Education, the school principal and the school governing body is no different. The different causes of these conflict situations are discussed and possible solutions suggested. This research study represents just one of many approaches to this subject, but sheds some light on various obstacles in the education system that have not previously existed, while offering a platform for further research and solutions.