This year started with more troubling news for the staff, students and community of Malek Fahd Islamic School.
On 5 January employees received notice from the school board advising them that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) had advised the school on 23 December 2016 that the school’s appeal against the Commonwealth Government’s decision to remove public funding had failed. This decision puts the school’s viability under threat as federal funding accounts for about two thirds of the school’s income.
The AAT supported the Department’s finding that the school has been and is operating for profit and, as a result, is ineligible to receive financial assistance from the Commonwealth.
The 22 page decision noted evidence that suggests Malek Fahd “is a good school which provides quality education” and acknowledged the loyalty, passion and commitment of the staff.
The issue was and remains the financial relationship between the school and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Inc (AFIC) and perhaps most critically the lease arrangements for the Greenacre campus.
IEU attended a meeting open to all staff on 10 January. MFIS Board member Dr John Bennett addressed the meeting and responded to question from the floor. Dr Bennett confirmed that the school would lodge an appeal to the Federal Court. The Board was also meeting with AFIC with a view to resolving the Department’s concerns.
Dr Bennett anticipated that the school would be able to operate for one term in the event that federal funding is not restored. He confirmed that the school had accounted for and had reserves to pay staff their accrued long service leave (LSL) entitlements of $2.4 million should the school be forced to cease operations. IEU will support its 50 members in ensuring that their entitlements (LSL, annual leave and redundancy) are recovered in the event that the school goes into liquidation.
One member raised the question about existing teachers gaining Proficiency with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), formerly BOSTES.
IEU contacted NESA and we were assured that existing teachers employed at Malek Fahd have no reason to be concerned about gaining Proficiency whether or not they have alternative employment in the event that the school closes.
As the Authority’s website is updated there will be an ‘opt in’ function for teachers who are presently not teaching but who have taught within the preceding five years. As long as members have not had a break from teaching of more than five years they will be able to achieve proficiency.
The Union will support any individual member who has issues with respect to their accreditation with NESA. IEU continues to assist teachers in gaining accreditation at both Proficient level (Band 2) and Experienced Teacher level (Band 3).