Gay ex-principal suing Jewish school over dismissal


SYDNEY (JTA) — One of Australia’s largest Jewish schools is being sued by a former principal who is gay with claims that he was the victim of unfair dismissal.

Documents filed in Federal Court allege that Joseph Gerassi’s dismissal last year from Bialik College in Melbourne was in breach of the Fair Work Act.

Gerassi is suing the school for millions of dollars over his firing, according to a report Tuesday in The Age newspaper. 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 2011 that the Bialik board had decided unanimously they had ”lost confidence in his ability to lead the school,” according to a letter from school President Graham Goldsmith to parents following the 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 the principal at Bialik, one of the top-rated schools in the state, from 2009, moving from the King David School in Johannesburg, South Africa, to take up the post. But last year he was told to resign or his employment would be terminated almost immediately.

Bialik declined to comment since the case is before the court.

"The school community has been kept informed of the situation throughout,” a spokesman was quoted as saying in The Age.

Bialik College, which has more than 1,000 pupils from preschool through high school, is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Its website describes the school 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."

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