Two parents who have pulled their children out of a Canberra Catholic school believe the school failed in its duty of care, after a disgraced ex-priest was moved in next door without the principal being told of his background.
The archdiocese confirmed that the principal of Sts Peter and Paul Primary School in Garran, Margaret Pollard, had known about the living arrangements of Father Brian Hassett since May 2016.
But in a letter to parents emailed out on Wednesday afternoon, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Catholic Education director Ross Fox said Ms Pollard was not told about the accusations against the former priest.
Instead, she was provided with a risk assessment about three priests living at Lanigan House, their age and poor health, Mr Fox said.
Prior to the letter being sent out, parent Anthony Millgate said the Catholic Education Office had failed to shed light on who knew what and when, and he had pulled his daughter out of the school as a result.
While the Catholic Education Office would hold a forum for concerned parents next week, Dr Millgate said it had been slow to act.
"For me it's just not good enough that the Catholic Church continues to sweep things under the carpet," he said.
"We've already lost a child and almost lost another child in an accident five years ago, we can't stand by and let this happen."
Another parent, who Fairfax Media has agreed not to name, said the principal's management of the situation had been "unsatisfactory" after the archdiocese said she had been told of the arrangement in May last year.
"We as parents, not you, have the right to make an informed decision on whether or not we accept and allow our children to be exposed to the risk of this ex-priest living on the school grounds," the woman wrote in an email to Ms Pollard on Monday.
Fairfax Media has contacted Ms Pollard directly several times to give her a chance to provide her side of the story.
Instead,Fairfax Media was provided with a statement from Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Catholic Education director Ross Fox on Tuesday afternoon, which said the Archbishop Christopher Prowse would soon announce details of an independent review into the handling of the matter.
He said the principal had been instructed to limit the knowledge of the ex-priest's presence to senior staff and clarified that the principal was not told about the allegations against the former priest.
"Taking into account the policies and procedures in place to protect children attending the school the Institute for Professional Standards and Safeguarding (IPSS) risk assessment concluded that any risk from the presence of the priests withdrawn from ministry was low," Mr Fox said.
"The principal was instructed by the IPSS to limit the distribution of the information to senior staff. The risk assessment advised the principal to remind the staff no one was to enter the school without being signed in.
"Irrespective of this process Catholic Education has not met the expectations of parents and the school community in relation to the safety of children. I unreservedly apologise for this situation and the failure to inform parents.
"The archbishop will shortly announce details of an independent review into the circumstances surrounding the handling of this matter to ensure full transparency and that such failings do not arise in the future."
Education minister Yvette Berry said the ACT Education Directorate would help accommodate students in local public schools if needed.
The minister has also asked the education directorate to look at how non-government schools are regulated "to see if there is more that could have been done".