Student protection officer's job in doubt over scandal
THE child sex abuse scandal at a Toowoomba Catholic school may have claimed another scalp.
It is believed former student protection officer Catherine Long has been stood down on full pay pending the results of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Ms Long, who is still employed by the school at the centre of the 2007 scandal, made headlines when she admitted she had no idea what "grooming" was.
Her ignorance came despite the fact she was the school's child protection contact.
A source close to the case said she had been suspended on full pay.
When questioned by The Chronicle, the Toowoomba Catholic Education Office would not confirm or deny whether Ms Long had been stood down.
"As this is an employment matter we cannot provide public comment in relation to it," policy and program advisor Tracey Flint responded.
Former principal Terry Hayes and senior education officers Christopher Fry and Ian Hunter were all sacked in 2009 over the mishandling of the abuse claims.
The investigation into pedophile teacher Gerard Byrnes' molestation of 13 young girls at the Toowoomba school has put the Catholic Education Office into damage control.
However, the CEO yesterday stated the very public inquiry had not affected student numbers at Byrnes' former school.
"Enrolments at the school have stayed the same," Ms Flint confirmed.
Bishop Robert McGuckin and CEO director John Borserio have written to the families of every Catholic schoolchild in the Toowoomba Diocese to apologise for the systemic failure to respond to reports of abuse.
"The children's suffering, inflicted by the heinous crimes committed against them, and the subsequent impact on their families, weighs heavily on our hearts and minds," the letter stated.
"We are very conscious that many other people have been affected by what has occurred and that the revisiting of these events, through the Royal Commission may call into question your confidence in the Church and Catholic Education.
"We offer our sincerest apologies for the failings of our Church and education community in responding to the reports of abuse.
"The perpetrator, who was employed as a teacher at the school, is now in prison for the offences."
Further to the letter, Mr Borserio reassured parents Toowoomba's Catholic schools were now properly equipped to deal with reports of abuse.
"Since 2007, significant changes have been made to the way we up-skill our people to ensure everyone in our schools responds in the right way to all issues associated with possible threats to children in our care."