Association of Independent Schools NSW chairman John Ralston resigns

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The chair of a prominent peak body overseeing independent schools in NSW has resigned effective immediately after the ABC revealed a convicted child sex offender was on its board at the time it investigated a Cranbrook School teacher’s sexually explicit emails.

The Association of Independent Schools NSW (AISNSW) and elite Sydney boys school Cranbrook have been embroiled in controversy this week.

Peter Cullen Macarthur remained on the association’s board for 22 years even after disclosing in 1995 that he had been convicted of two sexual assaults, one involving a child, the ABC reports.

In 2015, the association investigated a Cranbrook teacher’s explicit emails detailing sexual fantasies to a former student who was a young adult at the time. Dr Macarthur was on the board at the time, and the board found the Cranbrook teacher’s conduct was “not reportable”, the ABC reports.

The school council has since called the teacher’s behaviour “extremely concerning, and the federal Education Minister labelled the emails “extremely serious”.

John Ralston OAM was on the AISNSW board when Dr Macarthur disclosed his child sexual assault conviction and during the 2015 investigation into the sexual fantasy emails, , the ABC reports.

On Thursday morning Mr Ralston resigned effective immediately.

AISNSW chief executive Margery Evans said in an email that Mr Ralston had been planning to retire in May but would bring his resignation forward.

NewsWire has contacted the AISNSW for comment. The association represents about 500 independent – and many elite – schools in the state.

Amid revelations about the 2015 sexual fantasy emails earlier this month, Cranbrook headmaster Nicholas Sampson stepped down.

Cranbrook is a private Anglican school in Bellevue Hill, with tuition fees of up to $46,000 a year.

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