Trinity Grammar haircut scandal: Rohan Brown dismissed
That’s the simple message from current and former students at Melbourne’s prestigious Trinity Grammar where a simple haircut led to the dismissal of one of the school’s most beloved teachers.
Deputy headmaster Rohan Brown was forced to resign after a school photo day stunt on Thursday sent the school council into a spin. Mr Brown chopped a student’s hair because it did not meet the standards set within the school’s grooming guidelines.
Since then, teachers, alumni, the Old Boys’ Association and current pupils have revolted. Many are calling for the current headmaster and the entire school council to be sacked.
On Tuesday, students at the school wore casual clothing and brown armbands in support of Mr Brown, who says he’d like to return. There will be a special meeting tonight where his position is expected to be discussed.
A letter from 50 former captains and vice captains at the school from 2001-2017 was sent to the headmaster and the school council chair on Monday night.
“As former Trinity Captains and Vice Captains, we are writing to express our profound disappointment,” the letter begins.
The group wrote that they were concerned about “the change in culture and direction of the school”.
“In recent years, the school’s executive leadership has made clear its intention to change the school’s vision and direction.
“This has seen a dramatic shift from Trinity’s position as a non-selective, not-elite school dedicated to holistic personal developement, to an institution focused on ‘exceptional’ performance defined by ATAR excellence, growth and profit.”
Earlier, several current students expressed shock at Mr Brown’s dismissal in an interview with the Today show.
“He is a pretty integral part of this school. We all really love him, he is a such a big presence at the school and will be sorely missed,” a student named Toby said.
Another student, Anthony, said Mr Brown often cut students’ hair when he needed to.
“I don’t think there was much surprise as he was only upholding school rules and the school values, which he loves and cares about so much.
“He has cut other boys’ hair in the past so it wasn’t a surprise to me.”
Fellow student, Sam, said “the punishment clearly does not fit the crime”. He told Today that students would protest on the school’s oval and “speak out for everyone”.
Students at the school circulated an email on Monday detailing why it’s important to protest peacefully.
The email, signed by the 2018 School Leaders, declares students are “utterly hurt, angry and disappointed”.
Pictures from the protest show hundreds of students gathering on the oval where banners real “Bring Browny back”. They chanted “we want Browny” before they were told to “get off the fence”.
School Council chairman Roderick Lyle wrote to parents last week saying Mr Brown’s action was “in contravention of school policy and was also inconsistent with community expectations in this day and age”. But support gathered quickly behind Mr Brown.
A change.org petition has started and been signed by more than 5000 people. It asks the school to “bring Brownie back”.
“Without Brown, the school will fall apart,” one commenter wrote.
“The school will go into chaos without him,” another wrote.
Two former council chairmen, Neil Williams and Murray Verso, also issued a joint statement on Sunday. Through the Concerned TGS community Facebook page, the pair wrote that Mr Brown’s sacking was the culmination of months of bigger issues.
“Last week’s sacking of Trinity’s much admired deputy headmaster, Rohan Brown, is symptomatic of broader issues occurring at the school,” they wrote.
“For several months now, the school council has been bombarded with emails and letters expressing concerns about the direction of the school such as its current preoccupation with academic excellence at the expense of the more holistic offering that Trinity was known.
“This change in emphasis has left students and staff feeling pressurised and led to a massive staff turnover over the past four years.
“The council members have not responded in any meaningful way to these concerns. They have not entered into reasonable dialogue with concerned individuals, but instead, they have closed ranks and tried to tough it out, in the erroneous belief that their vision for the school is the correct one. They are viewed as remote and detached from the school community.”
News.com.au has reached out to Trinity Grammar for comment.
Originally published as Students’ stinging letter to school