RABBI Meir Shlomo Kluwgant has resigned as principal and CEO of Melbourne’s Adass Israel School.
The AJN can reveal that Rabbi Kluwgant tendered his resignation because of concerns raised by child sexual abuse survivor Dassi Erlich, who met with the board last month.
Erlich was sexually abused by former Adass principal Malka Leifer, who was spirited out of the country by members of the Adass community in 2008 after allegations of her abuse became public.
Welcoming news of Rabbi Kluwgant’s resignation, Erlich told The AJN, “I feel heartened that I was able to speak out for the students past and present of the school and the school board heard my concerns and acted. It really gives me hope that the school is moving in the right direction and positive change is happening.”
In June the Adass board announced that Rabbi Kluwgant had been appointed as the principal and CEO, but the news was immediately met with outrage by victims of child sexual abuse and others in the community.
While there has never been any claim or implication that Rabbi Kluwgant acted inappropriately with children himself, concerns were raised over how he had previously handled issues related to child sexual abuse.
As a result of those issues, The AJN can also reveal that The Association of Principals of Jewish Day Schools (Victoria) wrote to Adass last month and said that they would not be willing to meet with Rabbi Kluwgant.
“We have informed Adass that six of the principals insisted that Adass send a representative other than Rabbi Kluwgant to the meetings of the Principals’ Association,” one principal said.
The AJN can exclusively reveal that the six principals were Bialik’s Jeremy Stowe-Lindner, King David’s Marc Light, Leibler Yavneh’s Cherylyn Skewes, Mount Scopus’s James Kennard, Shalom Aleichem’s Helen Greenberg and Yesodei HaTorah’s Hilton Rubin and Rabbi Yochanan Goldblatt.
The only principal who did not respond, and therefore was not a signatory to the letter to Adass, was Yeshivah Beth-Rivkah’s Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler.
Child sexual abuse victims’ advocate Manny Waks welcomed the news of Kluwgant’s resignation on behalf of several victims.
“Both Adass and Kluwgant have horrific histories when it comes to mishandling matters relating to child sexual abuse,” Waks said.
“Kluwgant’s appointment was a slap in the face to the Yeshivah victims who worked so hard to expose his true character and to the Adass victims who continue to suffer terribly as a result of the lack of education and poor decision-making of the Adass School Board.”