Parents demand axing of church elders over PMSA scandal

 

CHURCH elders who were at the helm during an elite school scandal face fresh pressure to resign over an alleged fraud linked to the peak body of four of the state's most prestigious private schools.

Parents and alumni are demanding the axing of the "old guard" of the strife-torn Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association board after its hand-picked former executive manager last week faced court charged with fraud.

Ex-PMSA executive Rick Hiley, who was given a six-figure payout, appeared in court on a fraud charge after a two-year-long investigation by police into alleged data theft from Somerville House Foundation.

It comes after The Courier-Mail exclusively revealed an alleged cover-up by the besieged PMSA board which refused to release a secret internal investigative report into the scandal and publicly exonerated Mr Hiley in 2017.

Rick Hiley last week faced court charged with fraud. Picture: AAP image/John Gass
Rick Hiley last week faced court charged with fraud. Picture: AAP image/John Gass

Lewd texts about a nude Korean bathhouse between Mr Hiley and Police Inspector Rob McCall, then PMSA chair, also revealed a job offer and secret merger plans of the four schools.

Somerville House school principal Flo Kearney was sacked by the PMSA when she questioned their handling of the embarrassing saga but has since won a public apology and an undisclosed payout from the PMSA.

Yesterday it emerged the Heads of Senior, Middle and Junior Schools will also be exiting the historic all-girls private school at South Brisbane.

Students at Somerville House, South Brisbane. AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
Students at Somerville House, South Brisbane. AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

Beyond PMSA, which represents 4000 supporters, said the PMSA "old guard" who presided over the debacle including chair Greg Adsett, Anne Bennett, Helen Murray, Greg Skelton and Jim Demack should resign effective immediately.

"The police investigation determined that there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr Hiley with fraud,'' Beyond PMSA said in a statement.

"Whereas the very "rigorous" PMSA internal investigation and subsequent report that was produced by them apparently provided precisely the opposite conclusion.

"So much so, that the PMSA thought it appropriate not to disclose the contents of the report…and instead became Mr Hiley's public "advocate". This was despite furious public demands for them to demonstrate the integrity of that process."

Beyond PMSA said the court process must be allowed to occur and Mr Hiley must be given his day in court to defend them.

"The police didn't have to lay charges. They did so because they consider that there is a case to answer.

"But our point is that the basis for the PMSA's very definitive conclusion that there was no wrongdoing must be called into question and those responsible for managing that process and the shambolic consequences that followed must finally be called upon to take personal responsibility."

The PMSA owns Somerville House, Brisbane Boys College, Clayfield College and Sunshine Coast Grammar School.



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