One of Australia’s largest Jewish schools is being sued by a former principal who claims he was the victim of unfair dismissal.
Documents filed in Federal Court allege Joseph Gerassi’s dismissal last year from Bialik College in Melbourne was in breach of the Fair Work Act.
He is suing the school for millions of dollars over his firing, according to a report in The Age newspaper Tuesday.
The report said Gerassi is believed to have been the first openly gay principal of a Jewish school in Australia.
He was told in August of last year that the school board had unanimously decided they had ”lost confidence in his ability to lead the school,” according to a letter from school president Graham Goldsmith to parents following the school board’s decision.
“There is no suggestion whatsoever of any impropriety or misconduct on Joseph’s part,” Goldsmith wrote.
Gerassi is seeking compensation for loss of income and damage to his reputation. He was principal at Bialik College – one of the top-rated schools in the state – from 2009, moving from the King David School in Johannesburg to take up the post. But last year he was told to resign or his employment would be terminated almost immediately.
The college declined to comment since the case is before the court. “The school community has been kept informed of the situation throughout,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying in The Age.
Bialik College, which boasts more than 1,000 pupils, is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Its website describes it as “Australia’s only cross-communal Jewish school embracing the entire Jewish community regardless of affiliation or practice and with a strong and positive relationship with Israel.”