Deputy principal with ‘school phobia’ sues state for $1m
A deputy principal of a Queensland school has sued the state for almost $1 million in compensation claiming she has been left with school-phobia after a teacher accused her of not doing her job properly during a staff meeting.
June Frances McCrorie, 57, from Clontarf, north of Brisbane, the former deputy principal of Shorncliffe State School, alleges her post-traumatic stress disorder and "phobic avoidance of the workplace" were caused by the stress of abuse from year five teacher Joel Murray, including when he allegedly raised his voice in a "disrespectful" tone during a staff meeting in May 2017.
Ms McCrorie alleges in her damages suit filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, that Mr Murray had been "emotionally demeaning, humiliating and undermining" her for months before it came to a head at the meeting of 20 staff to discuss bad behaviour of students.
She alleges that before her humiliation in May, she complained to the Department of Education, through acting principal Emma Vine, about the anxiety and fear she felt at work in 2017, and the "bullying and harassment" she was suffering, but the department had failed to discipline Mr Murray.
McCrorie was appointed deputy principal in 2015 and left the school shortly after she was allegedly "humiliated and threatened" by Mr Murray's behaviour in the May staff meeting, her court claim states.
She also alleges she "felt undermined" by Mr Murray sending school-wide emails she felt were "belittling and aggressive" complaining about her in 2017, court documents state.
She alleges she and Mr Murray fell-out in 2016 over a dispute over how best to punish a naughty student and the animosity culminated in Mr Murray becoming "verbally aggressive" in her office in 2017 when he didn't get his way.
She claims the negligent failure of the education department to protect her from humiliation by Mr Murray has triggered serious mental health disorder in the form of adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressed mood and PTSD.
She claims "personal attacks" from unnamed-colleagues who were blunt in their assessments of her as part of a "360 degree feedback" survey in 2017 also made her stressed and anxious.
Ms McCrorie alleges she felt she had been "slapped in the face" when Ms Vine told her education department official Jeff Geise asked Ms Vine how she was handling the "June situation".
She also alleges Ms Vine told her there were "power struggles in the school" stirred by "ring-leader" Anne Farrow, the school's business manager.
She alleges the department failed to adequately train Ms Vines in how to resolve conflict, when the department ought to have known that Ms Vines was inexperienced as an acting principal, and failed to discipline or advise Mr Murray to "speak respectfully" to Ms McCrorie.
She is claiming $969,922 damages, based on the premise that she will never return to work in a school, and will need specialist psychotherapy called eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, as well as medication for the next three years.
The figure is calculated assuming she will miss out on a decade's work as a deputy principal on a net annual salary of $74,776, as well as superannuation and treatment costs.
She says her condition has left her with symptoms including a fear of leaving the house, and of being humiliated.
A defence is not due to be filed until the new year and no hearing date has been set.