The feud at Melbourne’s Trinity Grammar private school has escalated after a truck carrying protest billboards circled the school grounds for hours on Wednesday.
Students and parents are angry that popular deputy principal Rohan Brown was sacked two weeks ago for cutting a boy’s hair.
The protest truck carried a sign saying “It’s time to go”, directed at headmaster Michael Davies, who is blamed for Mr Brown’s firing.
“Our school community is far too progressive and inclusive for your 18th century values,” the billboard read.
To illustrate Mr Davies’ alleged views, the billboard included a purported quote from the headmaster: “A Trinity Education should heed the opening words of Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice: ‘It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife’.”
The quote is a reference to a famous romance novel published in the 1800s that satirised the social expectation, prevalent at that time in England, of marrying for wealth not love.
In the midst of the backlash, many of Mr Davies’ former colleagues at another Melbourne private school have come to his defence.
A letter written by St Kevin’s headmaster Stephen Russell, sent to The New Daily and other media outlets on Wednesday, praised Mr Davies as a “deeply respected and fondly remembered” former employee.
“Student and staff welfare was always uppermost in his mind and reflected in his actions,” Mr Russell wrote.
“He [Mr Davies] remains a highly esteemed colleague.”
The letter was signed by current St Kevin’s chair Peter Leahy as well as other current and former school leaders.
Intense national interest in the Trinity Grammar stoush has mystified many Australians from public school backgrounds.
Others lampooned the idea that privileged students from wealthy backgrounds were suffering through the apparent crisis.
Tuition at Trinity Grammar costs upwards of $32,000 a year, according to a schedule of fees from 2016.
Has anything that has ever happened at any Australian public school received Trinity Grammar-level media coverage?
— Matt Cowgill (@MattCowgill) March 21, 2018
Sorry but just how much coverage the Trinity Grammar story is getting speaks volumes about how many former private school kids work in the Aust media.
— Peter Taggart (@petertaggart) March 12, 2018
Just dropped a food package off at Trinity Grammar, come on guys they're suffering.
— Dave O'Neil (@itsdaveoneil) March 14, 2018