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Australia Edmund Rice education director apologises for supporting former St Kevin's College principal

05:50  27 march  2020
05:50  27 march  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The deputy principal of St Kevin ’ s College , Janet Canny, has stood down a day after the headmaster, Stephen Russell, resigned over the school’s “The investigation will receive the highest priority and be conducted by professionals external to the college and Edmund Rice Education Australia.”

St Kevin ' s College is an independent Roman Catholic, all-boys primary and secondary school. The college was founded in 1918, and is located in Toorak, Victoria, Australia.

St Kevin's College then-principal Stephen Russell resigned over the scandal exposed by Four Corners. (Four Corners) © Provided by ABC NEWS St Kevin's College then-principal Stephen Russell resigned over the scandal exposed by Four Corners. (Four Corners)

The head of the organisation that oversees St Kevin's College says he now regrets publicly supporting the former principal of the school in the wake of a grooming scandal revealed by the ABC's Four Corners in February.

Dr Wayne Tinsey, the director of Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA), attended a St Kevin's assembly the morning after the program aired and told students he had "absolute admiration" for its then-principal, Stephen Russell.

The Four Corners investigation revealed Mr Russell had written a character reference for a St Kevin's athletics coach who had been found guilty of grooming a former student.

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Edmund Rice Tradition. For students entering the College for the first time after the beginning of a Semester, Tuition Fees and Associated Charges will be charged on a proportionate basis. A tax-deductible receipt for the St Kevin ' s College Building Fund will be forwarded at the end of the

The headmaster of St Kevin ' s College in Melbourne, Stephen Russell, resigns following a Four Corners story about his response to the It's another thing to actually demonstrate that," he said. The college is overseen by Edmund Rice Education Australia, a national network of Catholic schools.

The program also highlighted cases of misogynistic behaviour by students at the prestigious Melbourne school.

Dr Tinsey told ABC Radio Melbourne the decision to initially support Mr Russell publicly was made in consultation with the EREA board.

"The speech I gave to the young men and staff that were gathered after the Four Corners program was a speech I regret making," he said.

"In the immediate wake of the 4 Corners program, Stephen Russell received an extraordinary backlash against him, including death threats.

"I mistakenly … thought that we could support the man and his family initially, until we got to the bottom of all the issues that had been raised.

"People who heard me speak interpreted that in some way of lessening the extraordinary bravery and courage of young men who spoke out."

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Central to the mission of St Kevin ' s College is the promotion of excellence in learning as an essential means of facilitating human growth and liberation, the recognition of family life as providing an affirming context for the nurturing of the whole ©2020 St Kevin ' s College Edmund Rice Education Australia.

Facing huge public and internal pressure, Mr Russell eventually resigned.

The deputy principal and dean of sport were also asked to step aside amid a State Government investigation into whether the school was compliant with child safety standards.

Mr Russell was replaced by acting principal John Crowley, a former headmaster at St Patrick's College in Ballarat.

Cultural problems at the school were first revealed by the ABC in October last year when a video of dozens of students performing a sexist chant on a Melbourne tram emerged.

Education amid lockdown

While many have called for all schools to be shut down completely because of coronavirus fears, Dr Tinsey said he would back the official position of state and Federal governments.

"I think we should be staying with our Government at times of extraordinary national challenge," he said.

Dr Tinsey described staff at EREA schools as "true heroes" as they grappled with teaching 35,000 children in a period of great uncertainty.

He said no student would miss out on a Catholic education if parents were unable to afford fees because of the impacts of coronavirus.

But he conceded "significant sacrifices" would need to occur in school communities.

"We don't know what the full financial fallout is going to be," he said.

"We'll have to share resources. The people are the most important and there's extraordinary stories of difficulty emerging."

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