Bernadette Norton. Photo / LinkedIn
A music school in one of Melbourne’s wealthiest suburbs is embroiled in a 17-month court battle with its chief executive sacked after she refused to stop calling herself the boss and holding meetings.
The fight between the Australian Guild of Music Education and its former leader Bernadette Norton reached Federal Court this week after the school filed a lawsuit against her in December 2019.
The Guild is a non-profit music and speech school located in Kooyong, which awards graduate degrees at an average of AU $ 17,000 per year, certificates and diplomas.
The board voted to dismiss Norton in September 2019 in a secret meeting, according to documents filed that year by the school to the Supreme Court of Victoria.
The coup was sparked when the board found out Norton had transferred A $ 50,000 from school funds to his own account, the school said in its statement.
His attorney Mark Harrick alleged in the Supreme Court on Friday that the money had been spent on “kitchen renovations”.
Norton in an affidavit claims she was authorized to transfer the AU $ 50,000.
“I deny having done any wrongdoing,” she said.
“The conditions of my employment were known and approved by the management committee at the time.
No criminal charges have been laid against her.
She believes the coup was motivated by a rival’s desire to “wrest power from her,” she said in an affidavit.
She had held the position for almost 20 years.
On the same day the board voted to fire her, Norton held a rival board meeting with a key ally and appointed new members, according to court documents.
The shadow council continued to hold meetings for three months.
In December 2019, the school asked the Supreme Court to order Norton to stop “pretending” to be the CEO and reimburse the AU $ 50,000.
He also asked the court to prevent her from using an email address she claims to have created after her dismissal that appeared to be associated with the school.
The Supreme Court appointed a receiver to settle matters in February 2020.
The receiver appointed a new board that did not include Norton.
She has now filed an application in Federal Court to seek the salary, vacation, superannuation and rights of her CEO between her termination notice on October 14, 2019 and August 28, 2020.
The school continues to seek an order asking it to reimburse the 50,000 Australian dollars it claims to have spent inappropriately.
Supreme Court Justice Michael McDonald will decide in August whether the refund issue will also be transferred to the Federal Court.
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This notice was published: 2021-07-23 21:37:40