Parents and a board member were shut-out of an annual general meeting held at Hillcrest Christian College yesterday.
Parents and a board member were shut-out of an annual general meeting held at Hillcrest Christian College yesterday.

Parents shut out of school after bullying claims

Parents were shut out of a meeting at a Gold Coast Christian college held days after media reports of bullying allegations against staff at the school.

The move sparked calls for an investigation into the principal's decisions.

Yesterday's planned Annual General Meeting for Reedy Creek Baptist Church, which owns Hillcrest Christian College, turned into a damage control exercise with organisers deciding at the last minute to only allow company members through the doors.

Long-term Hillcrest Christian College non-executive board member Steve Hunt and CEO of Christian Schools Australia Daniel Pampuch were among those left standing outside in the sun.

Mr Hunt said people were physically stopped from going into the meeting.

Reedy Creek Baptist Church board director Steven Hunt was not allowed into its AGM, help on May 26. Picture: Annie Perets
Reedy Creek Baptist Church board director Steven Hunt was not allowed into its AGM, help on May 26. Picture: Annie Perets

 

"A lot of people were prevented going in by people who had no authority and using stand-over tactics," Mr Hunt said.

"I was entitled to be in that meeting, it's unconstitutional that I wasn't let in."

He is calling for a transparent and fair investigation of the allegations surrounding the college.

"The concern that I have and many parents have is this veil of secrecy over the management of the college," he said.

"Senior staff members have been stood down and that's a major concern for everyone.

"One of the staff was stood down with certain allegations against him, he was stood down by the principal."

A former teacher of the college, Lynette Nieuwoudt, said she resigned in 2017 because of bullying.

Former Hillcrest Christian College teacher Lynette Nieuwoudt said she resigned because of a
Former Hillcrest Christian College teacher Lynette Nieuwoudt said she resigned because of a "toxic" work environment. Picture: Annie Perets

She said she was made to feel intimidated, fearful and anxious during her final years working there.

"For me, it was a toxic environment," Ms Nieuwoudt said.

"I came here today to look the principal in the eyes and ask him his response to the allegations (about the) treatment of staff.

"I had many meetings with him when he said things that I just never got a chance to respond to."

She said she still suffered from PTSD as a result of her experience and stayed silent to not ruin her chances of future employment.

Multiple parents refuted the allegations and described Mr Davis as a standout character with high morals and values.

They said their children flourished since starting at Hillcrest and said Mr Davis was a major reason for that.

"I'd go to war for this man," said a parent, whose child suffered from bullying at their prior school.

"You see him greeting all the students and he even drives the bus sometimes," another parent said.

The parents said they feared the negative publicity would harm the school's reputation and encourage bullying among students.

Mr Davis, who had worked at the school since 2015, declined to comment.



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