The image that outraged school parents

The image shown on screen during McAuley Catholic College principal Mark O'Farrell's Year 12 graduation speech.
The image shown on screen during McAuley Catholic College principal Mark O'Farrell's Year 12 graduation speech. contributed

THE principal of a local high school has come under attack for using an inappropriate, sexist image at a school graduation ceremony.

The parent of a child who attends McAuley Catholic College, was disgusted when a controversial photograph showing a family with all the females with their mouths taped shut and the father holding a sign reading "peace on earth" was shown during the principal's address at the ceremony last month.

The principal, Mark O'Farrell, had the image projected on to a screen while he spoke about gospel values.

National media has also reported the incident, with the story appearing in the weekend Sun Herald.

The Daily Examiner has received a letter from an unnamed parent containing similar information. It has also received a number of phone calls of complaint.

In it, the parent said the image created a stir among the 600 people who attended the ceremony.

"I noticed the buzz going through the audience," the parent wrote. "Teachers, all the students in the school... parents, some with little kids, grandparents and even the ex-principal.

"People were talking to one another, kids were looking down the rows to their teachers... and some people (men) were even smiling."

The parent was shocked the principal made no attempt to explain why he used the image.

"I was waiting to hear him say something about this," the letter said.

"Something about what it had to do with this group.

"He said nothing. He never even said that anything about it was wrong. The picture was up for all the rest of his speech."

Mr O'Farrell apologised for the incident in the school newsletter. Under a picture of the Year 12 graduates he wrote: "Dear Year 12 parents, It has been brought to my attention that one of the images used in my graduation presentation yesterday may have offended. I apologise if I offended any parent or student present as no offence was intended."

The parent said the admission was weak.

"So he wasn't pranked by someone," he said.

"He put the picture up, then he makes this weak apology."

The Daily Examiner contacted Mr O'Farrell to get an explanation of his actions and the Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Lismore to find out if there was disciplinary action or an explanation of the incident. Neither has chosen to comment.

Topics:  editors picks mcauley catholic college principal

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