Headmaster who supported child groomer could be called to Federal Court
Published: 4 March 2020
The child grooming scandal at St Kevin's has reached the Federal Court, with a school counsellor accusing her bosses of covering-up allegations of teacher misconduct. @Eliza_Rugg9 #9News pic.twitter.com/4XFAnlLavo— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) March 4, 2020
One of Melbourne's top schools has announced a new whistleblower policy as it faces more shocking claims involving child grooming. https://t.co/5zYfOfohG3 @SharnelleVella #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/V8hFA7sgd0— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) March 4, 2020
The former top school counsellor at controversy-embroiled St Kevin's College in Melbourne is ready to take her one-time bosses to trial in the Federal Court, her lawyers say.
Maree Keel claims that in the middle of 2019, she tried to report that a St Kevin's teacher had allegedly been grooming a student over two years, as well as two other matters.
Ms Keel alleges that because she tried to follow mandatory reporting obligations, her job as Head of Counselling was abolished.
She claimed deputy principal Janet Canny told her she was being disloyal to St Kevin's, and that headmaster Stephen Russell tried to make her quit.
Mr Russell has since resigned, after his support of athletics coach and convicted child groomer Peter Kehoe.
If the Fair Work case goes to trial, Mr Russell and Ms Canny will be called to give evidence.
The school, meanwhile, is adopting a new whistle-blower policy, where teachers, students and parents can report misconduct allegations directly to an external body for immediate follow-up.
And this week, all staff at St Kevin's are undergoing mandatory code of conduct training to make sure they know what the boundaries must be between students and teachers.
But not everybody approved.
"Why would you need a (code of conduct) to know that children are out of bounds?" Christine Craik of the Australian Association of Social Workers said.