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Former principal settles defamation case out of court

Posted on 12 January 2019
Former principal settles defamation case out of court

Above: Former Kambala Girls principal Debra Kelliher thanked her supporters

CaSPA is aware that some of our colleagues have been subject to "campaigns" from some in the their school communities. The following story provides some comfort that the rule of law can provide clarity and justice in cases such as this.

One of the nation's most prestigious girls' schools has "unreservedly" apologised to its former principal after settling a high-profile case defamation case out of court.

Kambala girls' school former principal Debra Kelliher was suing her former employer in the NSW Supreme Court and two of its teachers over emails sent in April 2017 she claimed had defamed her.

The emails were circulated in the days after Ms Kelliher resigned from the exclusive day and boarding school in Sydney's leafy Rose Bay after staff took a vote of no-confidence against her.

The emails, penned by head music teacher Mark Grandison and head social science teacher June Peake, were sent to various parents, staff and former staff in the days following her resignation.

The matter was listed for a jury trial, however the two parties were keen to settle the dispute out of court to avoid media coverage and have since been negotiating out of court.

The settlement amount was not disclosed.

However, when the defamation case was first launched, Ms Kelliher, who lost her $650,000 annual salary at the school, claimed losses of up to $2 million.

In an apology released this morning which was part of the settlement the school and the teachers involved said they "deeply regret, and unequivocally withdraw" the comments.

"Kambala, the school council, Mr Grandison and Ms Peake, all apologise unreservedly to Ms Kelliher for the publication of those emails and for the harm and hurt they have caused to her," the statement said.

Ms Kelliher said she was pleased this matter has been resolved and that the school had apologised for "the damaging comments made against me".

"I'm proud of my record as an educator," she said. "The work I undertook at Kambala [was] to build an inclusive school, which focused on the needs of the students.

"I'd like to thank the staff, parents, students and wider school community who have supported me during this time."

Tags: Governance

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