The Catholic Diocese of Parramatta is being investigated by the NSW Government over allegations it used school funds to buy parish properties, a parliamentary hearing has heard.
St Madeleine Primary School in Kenthurst is at risk of losing government funding after an independent panel recommended the Minister for Education declare it to be operating for profit due to purchases.
A parliamentary hearing on Monday was told that the executive director of the Diocese of Parramatta, Greg Whitby, is said to have bought two properties to bail out a priest whose parish was in financial difficulty.
NSW Upper House Education Committee Chairman Mark Latham has asked Education Department Secretary Georgina Harrison for details on the status of the diocese inquiry.
She agreed it appeared to be a serious matter but could not provide further information, saying she did not want to disrupt the investigation process.
The chair of the Non-Profit Non-Government Schools Advisory Committee, Carolyn Walsh, wrote to Mr Whitby on January 24 to say she had agreed to advise Education Minister Sarah Mitchell to declare the for-profit St Madeleine Primary School.
Ms Walsh urged the diocese to resolve the issues as quickly as possible “to minimize any potential disruption to the school, staff and students”.
The letter said that at a meeting on October 13, the committee had made the decision to “recommend to the Minister that the school engage in for-profit activity and therefore be a for-profit school from 2018 to the present and continues to operate for profit”.
“There is no evidence that there was any benefit to the school in entering into the transaction,” the letter states.