Donated funds trickle in for school principal
A GOLD Coast hinterland principal who is continuing to fight a bitter defamation battle with school parents in court despite already spending more than $700,000 on legal fees, has raised a measly sum through an online fundraising campaign.
Two months after Tamborine Mountain resident Michael O'Brien launched the fundraiser on the GoFundMe website for Tamborine Mountain State High School principal Tracey Brose, it has raised just $8721 towards a target of $300,000.
Mr O'Brien states on the page that "Tracey has put her entire livelihood on the line so she could stand up for all other educators" and that "all money will go directly to" Mrs Brose to pay her legal costs.
In February Mrs Brose won a paltry $6000 from two former school parents in a landmark internet defamation case that spanned three-and-a-half years.
But lawyers for Mrs Brose had initially sought more than $1.5 million from a group of eight school parents.
Mrs Brose has raised nearly $200,000 from court ordered costs and out-of-court settlements from other parents who settled before trial.
Mrs Brose also sued parents Laura Lawson, a grocery merchandiser from Coomera, and Trudie Arnold, a school-crossing guard from Canungra, for defamation but those cases were thrown out by the District Court Judge Catherine Muir, who found their comments were not defamatory.
Ms Arnold tipped herself into voluntary bankruptcy in October 2018 - on the same day she was ordered by the court to pay Mrs Brose's $39,234 in legal costs.
As part of her appeal documents Mrs Brose told the court that she has spent more than $700,000 on legal fees fighting the original case in the District Court.
Mrs Brose anticipates she will spend a further $120,000 to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Mrs Brose stated in her "financial hardship" form submitted on April 9.
The decision by District Court Judge Catherine Muir in February was a bittersweet victory for
Mrs Brose, with the judge criticising her credibility as a witness and awarding her a fraction of the $1.5 million-plus in damages she had sought from the eight parents she originally sued in a bitter 3½-year legal battle.
The now-bankrupt parents she successfully sued, Donna and Miguel Baluskas, have appealed the decision and told Mrs Brose after the decision that she could "stick her bill up her arse".
The couple tipped themselves into bankruptcy last year, but have permission from their bankruptcy trustee to appeal.
After the decision Mrs Brose said the legal fight was never about the money but about restoring her reputation and protecting the safety of her family after incidents including a home invasion by Mr Baluskas. He was convicted.
But Judge Muir found that Mrs Brose's insistence that all she wanted was an apology from the parents was not borne out in the evidence.
The legal saga was triggered by an online petition which was launched to have Mrs Brose reinstated to her job after she was mysteriously temporarily suspended as principal in February 2016 over serious allegations against her.
The reasons for the suspension of Mrs Brose - who has since been reinstated - have never been made public despite the parents' attempts to expose them during the court case.
Ms Brose alleged she was defamed in social media comments on the online petition on Change.org.
Originally published as Donated funds trickle in for school principal