The former principal of Kildare Catholic College, Rod Whelan, will not be returning to the school, despite an independent review concluding procedural unfairness in the handling of his resignation.
The Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn Christopher Prowse made the announcement on Tuesday, while conveying his personal apology to Mr Whelan for the mishandling of the situation in August 2019.
"On behalf of the Diocese, I would like to apologise for the processes that occurred around Mr Whelan's resignation," Archbishop Prowse said.
"This was not fitting for a principal of his experience. I have conveyed this apology to Mr Whelan personally."
The Archbishop went on to further dash the hopes of those who had led the campaign for Mr Whelan's reinstatement, by confirming he "will not be returning to Kildare Catholic College as a principal".
Only 11 of the review's 25 recommendations were made public on Tuesday.
Among the top were instructions for the Catholic Education Diocese of Wagga Wagga to consider seeking an external applicant for the role of principal. The CEDWW will also seek to appoint a new schools director following the resignation of Mark MacLean earlier this year.
"Based on the findings of the review, and because of the staff and community unrest at Kildare Catholic College an acting principal with recognised experience and capability [will] be identified from outside the CEDWW to be appointed to the College for a period of up to 2 years," the review states.
On the eve of the announcement, parents staged one final campaign to reinstate Mr Whelan with an online petition that garnered more than 800 signatures in a few hours.
The change.org petition, set up by school board member and parent Bill Wood, was addressed to Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn Christopher Prowse.
Mr Wood told The Daily Advertiser the petition was intended to be a show of virtual solidarity after plans for further demonstrations in Wagga were cancelled by COVID-19 restrictions.
"A mass protest would be inflaming in these COVID times but we want to be heard," Mr Wood said.
"We've been told there's just a minority of parents who are upset. If we get to 1000 [signatures] it shows there's a lot of feeling about this."
Last Monday, students staged their own protest by walking out of their classrooms and onto the oval, while chanting messages of support for their former principal.
In the wake of the initial resignation in August 2019, students also set up an online petition calling for answers to why the decision had been made so suddenly.
This time, parent of three and signatory to the new petition, Kelly Shaw said it was "an eleventh hour plea" to the Archbishop to consider re-offering the top job to the former principal.
"It's a testament to the outrage people are feeling," Ms Shaw said.
"I think a lot of people were hoping when the review was announced that it would mean the movement to have Rod Whelan reinstated would lose momentum and disband.
"That hasn't happened, if anything, this proves how passionate we all are about this educator."
Since January, Mr Whelan has taken up a full-time position at the Catholic Education Diocese of Armidale.
When contacted by The Daily Advertiser the Armidale schools director Chris Smyth confirmed Mr Whelan continues to hold this permanent position.
Ms Shaw acknowledged it would take time to feel closure with the knowledge Mr Whelan would not be returning to the school.
"It will be hard for whoever comes in now, even if they are dynamic and charismatic, it will take a long time - probably a whole cycle of students - to get through the pain of losing Rod. It will be six years at least."
Ms Shaw said she will remain an active part of the college community for the duration of her three children's tenure.
But Mr Wood believes the events of the past 10 months has shaken confidence in the school and the Catholic Church in Wagga.
"A lot of staunch Catholics are not identifying as Catholics any more and that's been a hard realisation for many people," Mr Wood said.
"It makes me consider the future of the school. It's frustrating, it's not about the education, but I think there will be a lot of parents making phone calls to other schools tomorrow."