School board stands down principal days after it refused to pay staff
The principal of an inner-north Melbourne private school that began the school year by withholding its teachers’ pay has been stood down due to alleged misconduct, prompting an outpouring of support from staff, who are calling for his reinstatement.
Neil Hasankolli, principal of East Preston Islamic College, has been stood down by the school’s new board, days after the board withheld wages from its teachers and support staff.
Staff at East Preston Islamic College have petitioned the board to reinstate the principal after he was stood down.
The new board, which has been locked in a legal dispute with the old board, claimed it could not pay staff until the old board authorised the release of funds. All members of the former board were purged in a vote late last year.
Staff were eventually paid their overdue wages last week after the Independent Education Union took the case to the Fair Work Commission.
The union dropped the matter once the board authorised payments for the school’s more than 100 staff after mediation with the old board in the Supreme Court.
Fifty-four staff submitted applications for financial hardship payments before the dispute was settled.
Most staff members signed a petition this week pleading with the board to reinstate Hasankolli, a long-serving senior employee at the school.
The petition to the school’s board members, seen by The Age, says: “Please find a list of staff who come together to support Neil Hasankolli. We request that he is returned to his position as Principal at EPIC [East Preston Islamic College] as soon as possible. His hard work and efforts at our school have made a positive difference, and he still has a lot to offer.”
The petition has been signed by more than 100 staff members.
A school employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said staff were informed by the board during a fiery all-staff meeting that Hasankolli had been stood down on serious misconduct allegations but were not provided with any details.
The employee said that when probed, the board said Hasankolli had been stood down for speaking to the union, media and schools regulator about the withheld pay.
Council secretary and new school board member Fouad Hassan confirmed that Hasankolli had been stood down due to alleged misconduct but declined to go into details.
He rejected claims that it was retribution for speaking out about the withholding of staff pay.
“It’s something that is just in the normal procedures if the board believes there was misconduct. He has been notified, he’s on full pay and at the moment; it is taking its process,” Hassan said.
East Preston Islamic College is owned by the Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria, a group of 11 community groups in Melbourne.
A former staff member said he felt “sick in the stomach” about the upheaval, which had damaged staff morale and threatened to disrupt the education of students.
“This power struggle, it is honestly a pity. I don’t know if they are thinking about kids and staff morale. This will affect the kids’ education, and we are there for the kids,” he said.
The school, though fee-paying, has a mostly disadvantaged cohort and 97 per cent come from a non-English-speaking background.
Hassan said the school was functioning normally under the acting leadership of a vice principal, and the children’s education was not being affected.
“The school is running properly,” he said. “There is no incident in regard to the wellbeing of teachers or students.”
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in National
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article