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Bureaucrat versus educational cowboy -

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KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: It was meant to be a school for troubled youth but now it's the school
and its principal, not the students, who are in trouble.

Jon Carnegie's taught in some of Victoria's most prestigious schools and won national teaching
awards but his reputation has been seriously shaken after authorities moved to shut his school down
over concerns about child welfare.

But Mr Carnegie blames a bureaucracy, he says, more focussed on rules and regulations than with an
under resourced area of education, and says that's why he's refusing to obey orders to stop

Kirstin Murray reports.

JON CARNEGIE, SCHOOL PRINCIPAL {TO STUDENTS}: When you get your minds focused on what that spot

The kids aren't here sitting out under a tarpaulin in the pouring rain because they hate education.
they're out there because they want more learning and for me not to give it to them, that's a

KIRSTIN MURRAY, REPORTER: It always was the school of last resort, now this school is on its last

Six months ago authorities closed it down, suspending its registration when minimum standards
weren't met.

But that hasn't stopped these students, or their teacher, from taking class.

JULIA MULLIGAN, STUDENT: First we worked in the park for about four weeks, then McDonald's for
about a week, then we went to a hall in Balwyn that we rented out for about five weeks and then we
came back to the tent.

JON CARNEGIE: The hardest part of this whole process for me to work out is that the kids want to be
here, their parents want them to be here, the community wants and needs them to be here. What right
have the Government got to tell those kids they can't be here?

schools who operate in this State meet the minimum standards and if they're suspended they don't,
and until they can be demonstrated the suspension won't be lifted.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Holding English lessons in the schools' car park might now be the norm but it
wasn't always this way.

Four years ago the Melbourne teacher had a grand plan, he would sell his home to build a new school
where all students felt welcome.

Within months of opening it had a waiting list. Jon Carnegie had earned a reputation for turning
troubled teens around.

HANNAH GROVES, STUDENT: I remember the first term I came here I'd done more work than I'd ever done
in that year when I was at my other two schools. Like I'd filled, like two whole books of English
work and maths and stuff and that's like the most work I've ever done, sadly, like my whole life.

WILL BROOMHAM, STUDENT: It's not like either you're the best or you're the worst. It's, this is how
you are and this is how you're going to be.

have to be done, no I'm serious, it does have to be done up please, no, no come back, come back.

ROHAN BROWN: He cares for the children; he's prepared to put himself out. He's prepared to go above
and beyond the call of duty.

{to student} attending this morning...

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Rohan Brown's the deputy headmaster of the prestigious Trinity Grammar where Jon
Carnegie taught for 16 years.

ROHAN BROWN: Jon is a better teacher than me. Jon is what I would like to be in many cases. He is
an outstanding teacher. I admire him for what he does.

JULIA MULLIGAN: The reason we show up here every day is for John, is to support him the way he
supports us.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: 17 year old Julia Mulligan went through seven schools struggling to fit in.

By the time her mother enrolled her in Carnegie she'd been skipping class for six months and was
developing a drug problem.

For the Mulligan's, the school was life changing.

KIRSTEN MULLIGAN, MUM: She's far more focussed, she believes she has a future and I'm not sure what
form that will take but she is really keen to do her VCE now whereas before she came here I had
little hope of that ever happening.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: But Julia Mulligan and her classmates education has now taken a very different

When the school closed the other teachers had to move on. All that remains is Jon Carnegie and this

LYNN GLOVER: An educational facility must keep children safe. It must provide them with appropriate
physical resources to be able to undertake their studies, we're talking libraries, we're talking
desks we're talking computers, and by definition, a tarpaulin in a car park does not provide that.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Lynn Glover heads the regulatory authority which first found problems with the
school during a review in 2008.

LYNN GLOVER: I'm not going to go into the specifics of it but the review covered the critical areas
that every school in the State must meet to maintain their registration. They are standards of
governance, infrastructure and facilities, curriculum, staffing and student well being.

JON CARNEGIE: We are very open to the fact that we needed to improve. And we did and we got to a
point where every single 'i' had been dotted and the 't's had been crossed and every fire
extinguisher was where it was meant to be and power points, we spent $300,000 on the improvements
and it still wasn't enough.

So to me whether a toilet is outside or inside is, I'll say, it's irrelevant. What's relevant is
where the child is. Are they at school or are they on the streets?

KIRSTIN MURRAY: But Jon Carnegie ignored authorities and continued enrolling students.

Now evenings are spent filling out paperwork, trying to prove he can be trusted again.

JON CARNEGIE: The difficulty for me, operating basically on my own at the moment, is I don't have
the resources to be going through, you know, large amounts of this sort of thing which often are
basically over my head.

ROHAN BROWN: It's a tragedy that the regulatory body doesn't say 'we would like to help you Jon'.

LYNN GLOVER: The children's welfare is our primary concern. We need to talk to Dr Carnegie, he
needs to come and see me, he needs to explain exactly what's going on.

JON CARNEGIE {TO STUDENTS}: So for me when somebody says 'draw sounds' my mind goes to endless

KIRSTIN MURRAY: In the end it might be money - or lack of it - that forces his hand. Within four
months his finances will dry up.

Jon Carnegie: Bureaucrat versus Educational Cowboy: big clash. And right now there's not a winner
on either side and the biggest losers are the kids and their families.

WILL BROOMHAM: We know in reality it's gonna get shut down it's just nobody wants to think about

JULIA MULLIGAN: We were in it for the long run, we said that from the start, 18 months later we're
still in it, every single kid is. I just think it proves the strength that we have and how much
passion the students and Jon has about this school, like, it does amazing things for us and we'll
keep fighting.