Former head of elite school hit with $5m lawsuit

The former principal of Melbourne Girls Grammar is facing legal action over claims she failed to protect a student from bullies.

Olivia Jenkins and Sarah Perillo Exclusive

Melbourne Girls Grammar School

The claims do not relate to Catherine Misson’s time as principal of the prestigious Melbourne girls’ school. Picture: Ellen Smith

The former principal of Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in Canada over claims she failed to protect a young girl from severe bullying while she was headmistress of another exclusive school.

Andrew Rogerson is suing Catherine Misson, who left Melbourne to become head of Havergal College in Toronto, for $5.5m after his eight-year-old daughter Grace was asked to leave the school because he reported constant bullying at the hands of another female student in 2019.

The Herald Sun understands Ms Misson has since returned to Melbourne to work as an educational consultant, including with schools such as Strathcona Girls Grammar amid the pending legal complaint.

Court orders have barred both Mr Rogerson and Ms Misson from commenting on the case to the media.

But legal documents detail Mr Rogerson’s concerns about how bullying claims were dismissed by Havergal staff, including Ms Misson.

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Catherine Misson was principal of Melbourne Girls’ Grammar between 2008 and 2018.

His statement of claim alleges that Grace was physically assaulted and bullied by another female student because she was of “Asian and Australian descent”.

“Grace has been subject to consistent verbal and physical bullying at the hands of another Havergal pupil, who is … caucasian,” it read.

Havergal responded by accusing Mr Rogerson of “improper conduct and animus” against the school.

Ms Misson left Australia with her family – including husband David Misson, who worked at Melbourne Demons Football Club as an elite performance manager for eight years – to lead Havergal in August 2019.

She was the principal at MGGS between 2008 and 2018.

Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar SchoolMs Misson has worked as a consultant at Strathcona Girls’ Grammar. Picture: Mark Stewart

This is not the first time the elite Canadian college has faced legal action.

In 2020, a mother and her teenage daughter sued the school for $38m for allegedly dismissing the student’s suicide attempt as “a contrivance” and failing to protect the student from “relentless” bullying.

Ms Misson was not headmistress of the school at the time the pair alleged the previous incidents occurred.

Havergal and Ms Misson deny Mr Rogerson’s claims.

In a statement to the Herald Sun, the school’s Board of Governors said Ms Misson was an “exceptional educator” during her term as principal and had returned to Australia to be closer to family.

“Catherine’s commitment to student care and wellbeing and her work as a strategic leader made a strong, lasting impact on the Havergal community,” the statement said.

The exclusive Canadian college charges parents $AUD41,000 in tuition fees, which spikes to $AUD71,000 for students living on campus.

The Herald Sun contacted MGGS for comment.