Thursday, September 1, 2011

What's going on here? - 1 UPDATED

The rumour mills are abuzz but AJN Watch has yet to receive credible information on why Gerassi - who was "imported" at no small cost - from South Africa together with his partner, has been given the flick.
(We invite readers input but remind all that libellous and inappropriate comments will be disallowed.)
BIALIK College’s president Graham Goldsmith kept tight-lipped on the reasons why the school last week sacked principal Joseph Gerassi.
In a move that caught many parents by surprise, Gerassi’s employment with the school was terminated last Wednesday, effective immediately. Long-time Bialik teacher Gary Velleman has been appointed acting principal while the school conducts an international search.
Speaking to The AJN on Wednesday, Gerassi said he been prevented by the school council from telling his side of the story, for now.
With Bialik having finished in the top-10 Victorian schools for VCE in 2010 and with school enrolments at the Hawthorn East school at capacity, the move appears perplexing.
But Goldsmith refused to shed light on the reasons Gerassi was marched out, repeatedly telling The AJN, “it’s not appropriate or fair to go into that sort of detail out of respect for him.
The AJN understands a number of senior teachers at the school had clashes with Gerassi, who moved from Johannesburg’s King David School less than three years ago for the job. It is alleged they confronted the board threatening to resign if changes were not made to the school leadership.
When this version of events was put to Goldsmith, he replied: “I’m not going to go into specific interactions the council had.
He added: “We made a unanimous decision, it wasn’t take lightly.”
Dr Paul Bartrop, a former senior teacher at Bialik who this year took up a position in the United States, confirmed there was discontent.
Speaking from his new home in New Jersey, he said Gerassi’s “leadership style” had alienated some teachers and parents.
“I do not think he had a positive influence on the way Bialik College functioned on a day-to-day level,” Dr Bartrop said.
“The college community can now refocus its attention on the core objectives of teaching and fostering of menschlichkeit [creating good Jews],” he said. “It is unfortunate that the college council was place in such a position that it had to take this stand.”
Goldsmith said a meeting had been organised with parents tonight (Thursday), in the interest of “transparency”, but said reporters would not be welcome to attend.
In a letter sent to Bialik parents last Wednesday, Goldsmith wrote Gerassi had been sacked “because council lost confidence in his ability to lead the school”, however, he added the council continues to support “many new programs and initiatives introduced during the three years that Joseph was principal”.
The school president admitted parents’ reaction had been mixed, but added “With a decision like this, it’s not a sudden or rash decision, this is not something that is taken lightly.”
Gerassi began at the school in 2009, taking over from long-standing Bialik principal Genia Janover after her retirement.  NAOMI LEVIN

What the Bialik students think:


  1. Here's a comment from Michael Barnett's blog. (Yes that MB who seems to have a hate/hate relationship with your blog...) Not that he seems to know any more about the sacking than anyone else.

    History repeats at Bialik College

    I started high school in 1981 in Year 7 at the brand new Hawthorn East campus of Bialik College. The principal of the school was David Goldsmith. At some stage between 1981 and 1982 the school council unexpectedly terminated the employment of David Goldsmith. This was a shock to everyone and to the best of my knowledge no explanation was given for the decision. Abraham Feiglin was installed as the interim principal before a permanent replacement could be found in Michael Pincus.

    Three years ago, in late 2008, Bialik College employed Joseph Gerassi as the replacement for long-standing school principal Genia Janover. Genia Janover announced her resignation in 2007 after 20 years of service to the school as principal, having started in 1988. This week, on August 24 2011, almost three years after starting, Joseph Gerassi’s employment was suddenly(*) terminated amidst a cloud of mystery. No explanation has been given by the school council for their decision, although they will be holding an information meeting with the school community on September 1 to explain their decision and discuss relevant issues.

    I’m not drawing any comparison between the sacking of the two Bialik College principals David Goldsmith and Joseph Gerassi, each 30 years apart. Nor am I placing any judgement upon the decision made by the school council for their recent decision. However what is most ironic for me about this most recent situation is that Graham Goldsmith, the President of the school council that made the unanimous decision to terminate Joseph Gerassi’s employment, is the son of sacked Bialik College principal David Goldsmith.

    While I’m writing this missive, a journey down memory lane in some regards, I’m reminded that Graham Goldsmith was one of my scout leaders at 3rd Doncaster West. I have fond memories of that time.

    I have always looked at Bialik College as one of the leading schools in Victoria, and perhaps Australia, setting a high standard in academic excellence. I wish all associated with the school the best for the future and hope that the right leadership for the school can be found promptly.

  2. Further reading of the Barnettblog, I found this comment from him which may or may not be related to the sacking.

    1. Mikey Bear says:
    May 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    It’s no secret that Joseph Gerassi, principal of Bialik College, is gay and has a male partner. When they arrived in Australia the Bialik community made both of them very welcome.

    I don’t believe Joseph Gerassi has identified with the gay community in Melbourne publicly, so to say that he and his partner “are probably the most prominent member of the Melb gay community” would not be a fair statement.

    Has the AJN covered this up? Why would it have been necessary to discuss his sexuality in the context of his professional life? If they were doing a personal piece it would be nice to see his partner mentioned, but otherwise, it doesn’t seem relevant.

  3. B'H

    How 'excretiating' or to be more blunt, they are full of crap. If that is modern progressive Judaism, they should leave it in the outhouse where it belongs.

  4. B'H
    Who is really interested in what Barnett rabbits on and on about?
    I am interested in this article from the point of view that I always thought it was a strange choice for a Principal. Not that I am casting dispersion on Barassi's capabilities, I am not. However it is obvious that he ruffled features and maybe bought in a political agenda that did not sit well with others in the more mainstream lifestyle.
    I do think a principal has to have a model life that fits with the norm as they are role models for later in life. I support inclusiveness and do not think by any stretch of the imagination that people should be bullied or ostracized, but many of us are sick of the Barnetts of this world shoving their life styles into our faces as 'normal'. It is not. However, homosexuality exists and some very decent people do happen to be 'gay' and they deserve respect for their accomplishments, but a principal of a Jewish day school may not be what some more mainstream parents are looking for and it does clash with some very basic Jewish values. There are no easy answers here.

  5. I think Ilana's first comment was in reference to the Urinetown post

  6. Does anyone have a report from last night's meeting of the school board and parents?

  7. B'H

    Gilly is right. The first comment refers to the Urine Town post.

    I don't think the report from Thursday night's meeting would be made public knowledge unless there is a leak. In fact, it is probably better for the school if it is not.

  8. Overheard at a Friday night gathering that allegedly Gerassi wasn't preparedt o leave the school premises and alegedly was marched off by security. Curiouser and curiouser

  9. I heard claims that parents were withdrawing kids from the school, were unhappy with hi sleadership. Also teachers were unhappy.

    Who knows what's truth and what's gossip??


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