The Board of Uniting Church school, MLC, last month released the independent review of its governance structure, commissioned in the wake of the furore over its termination of long standing principal, Rosa Storelli last year.
The 40 page report, by Libby Klein of Moores Legal, was considered by the Board at its August meeting, before the Uniting Church received the final document for review.
MLC was established in 1882 and the report documents its governance history. In 1982 the College was incorporated as an entity in its own right, with a legal identity separate from the Uniting Church. In the 1990s the Property Trust (Vic) transferred the Church’s ownership of the land to MLC.
According to a media statement issued by Chair, Ms Louise Adler AM, the Board had accepted all five recommendations of the review and ‘would now consult with the Uniting Church on its implementation, including changes to the College constitution’.
While the report claims that the recommendations will enable ‘a stronger working relationship and real input from the Uniting Church in the governance of the College’, a close reading of the document does not support this statement.
The fifth recommendation is to reduce the visitor role to a ceremonial one. In the regulations of the Uniting Church in Australia, the visitor role is ‘for the purpose of exercising oversight’.
The fourth recommendation is to adopt a skills-based board of 10 directors elected by the wider membership body (of 20), removing the representational model. While skills-based boards are essential for good governance, this recommendation removes the current stipulation of two Uniting Church representatives.
The Uniting Church is acknowledged in the second and third recommendation, with inclusion in the ‘stakeholder’ members group of 10.
MLC, an institution of the Uniting Church, in this draft governance model, describes the Church as just one of three major stakeholder groups (the other two being current parents and former students).
The Uniting Church would have representation on a nominations committee to facilitate the election of members and directors – one voice of five, including the board chair and the principal.
The report’s penultimate paragraph concludes with the important sentence that for the recommendations to be implemented, the process involves obtaining the approval of MLC’s members and of the Uniting Church.
The Synod will consult with the appropriate committees and councils of the Church before making any public comment.
By Penny Mulvey