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Malek Fahd: Hundreds call for sacking of school board at protest meeting

“Crooks should be punished”: The Malek Fahd community demanded action be taken after investigation revealed school was operating for profit. Photo: Michele Mossop Parents and students make their way in to Malek Fahd school on Monday night Photo: Michele Mossop

School students could be left stranded after funding was withdrawn from Malek Fahd Islamic School in Greenacre. Photo: Nic Walker

Children stuck in 36 degree classrooms

Hundreds of students and parents have descended on a Sydney school protesting mismanagement by the school’s board after a federal Department of Education investigation found it was operating for profit.

Students of Malek Fahd in Sydney’s western suburbs arrived holding placards demanding transparency, describing the actions of the school board as a “betrayal”.

On Monday, Fairfax Media revealed that basic services such as air conditioning had not been paid for by the school administrators despite allegations that some former board members had taken out six-figure loans for up to $19 million in taxpayer funding.

Furious year 12 students arrived at the school demanding answers as they faced the threat of their school being closed mid-way through their HSC.

The Federal Department of Education slashed $19 million in funding last week. The school has until April until it runs out of funds but has vowed to appeal the decision.

Despite being a private institution, the 2400-student school, one of the largest in NSW, relies on taxpayer funding for up to 75 per cent of its income. It is one of six schools run by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) currently under investigation by the federal government.

“We don’t know what we are going to do. The school community is very worried,” said 18-year-old Zubair Vetter.

Inside the packed school hall a motion was circulated calling for some of the board members associated with AFIC to resign.

AFIC is also being investigated by the national charity regulator over allegations it used funding to purchase airfares and legal fees.

“A well reputed school is on the verge of closure [this] is detrimental for the future of our brightest kids in our community,” the motion read. “May Allah save Malek Fahd Islamic School. Let us stand against the current board of school management to resume government funding.”

On Monday, Lakemba MP and former Punchbowl Boys’ High principal Jihad Dib said he feared for the future of the school’s students.

“My major concern is for the students, especially those in Year 12 who are halfway through their HSC studies. It’s not right to simply say that they can just change schools,” he said.

Mr Dib has requested an urgent meeting with the office of the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, to seek a resolution.

The school community is due to vote on action to be taken against the school’s board on Monday night.

AFIC has been contacted for comment.

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