Former St Patrick's College principal John Crowley has announced he will not apply for the position as headmaster of St Kevin's College in Melbourne where he has been acting principal this year after his shock departure from Ballarat in February.
Mr Crowley was appointed to the position at the beleaguered St Kevin's College just hours after the school's previous principal Stephen Russell resigned in the wake of a series of damaging reports of the Catholic school's handling of a child grooming case.
It was widely expected that Mr Crowley, who had been appointed as acting principal, would be a frontrunner for the permanent position but in a statement to St Kevin's College parents he said he would not apply for the job.
"Edmund Rice Education Australia is currently working through the process of appointing the next principal of St Kevin's College. In the interest of courtesy and transparency I wish to inform the community that I will not be applying for this position," he wrote.
"Having been a principal for well over a decade now, and in some challenging yet hope-filled circumstances, I have decided the time is right for me to pursue new directions and consider other options that may present themselves.
"While I am unsure what this change might look like, I am certain it is the right decision. Being a principal is, without any doubt, one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it is also a very demanding one."
Mr Crowley will not be returning to the role as St Patrick's College principal. In April, EREA appointed Steven O'Connor, a former deputy headmaster and current head of school at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield in Sydney, as principal of St Pat's to commence next year.
Mr Crowley was appointed to guide St Kevin's College through difficult times in the wake of the scandal, having built his reputation for dealing with tough issues steering St Pat's through one of the most difficult phases in its history and his work with sexual abuse survivors.
His appointment was welcomed by St Kevin's College parents reeling at the handling of the alleged child grooming case.
While I am unsure what this change might look like, I am certain it is the right decision. Being a principal is, without any doubt, one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it is also a very demanding one.John Crowley
"Since I joined St Kevin's College in February I have been grateful for the warm welcome I have received from our community, staff, parents and Old Collegians. Most significantly over this time, I have been greatly impressed with the student cohort. The manner in which they have welcomed me and their capacity to engage in genuine and thoughtful conversations in the yard, on the train station and on the playing fields, is a credit to each of them," Mr Crowley wrote.
"My arrival coincided with a difficult time for the college. Over the past four months the leadership team, staff, advisory board and our governing authority EREA have worked very hard to strengthen child safeguarding practices and governance structures.
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"At the same time the whole community had to quickly respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. I am proud of the commitment and professionalism of our college staff who ensured all of our students were supported and provided with first class learning experiences throughout this time of offsite learning."
Recruiting for the new principal is expected to take several months with the new principal to take up the role in January 2021. "Until then, my undivided focus will be on working with our team to prepare the college for the new principal to hit the ground running with a seamless transition."
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