Protesters crash elite school’s AGM in ‘last stand’
PLACARD-waving protesters wearing masks with the word 'silenced' have crashed the AGM of a troubled Gold Coast elite private school for what they say is 'a last stand'.
About 30 protesters including parents and former staff at Hillcrest Christian College gathered outside the Reedy Creek Baptist Church, which runs the school.
The protest followed this month's reappointment of principal Jeff Davis who had been embroiled in turmoil over issues including unproven bullying allegations - of which he was cleared - staff departures and controversy over hundreds of thousands of dollars in school loans to a company set up to commercialise a reading program.
Mr Davis was re-contracted to his $400,000-plus role ahead of today's AGM, which was voting to overhaul the college board and constitution and hand control to the Baptist Union of Queensland.
It followed an investigation by private schools watchdog, the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board, into the administration and governance of the college which receives about $17 million a year in government funding.
Protesters including children waved placards with messages including 'Save Our School', "Enough is Enough', 'Fees Up, Results Down' as board directors and church company members arrived for the AGM.
One sign read 'Teachers Aren't Nuff Nuffs, They're Amazing' - a reference to explosive audio recordings that emerged of Mr Davis blaming teachers 'who can barely pass Year 12' for poor school results.
One church company member hugged protesters and said she had 'work to do' at the meeting.
Protest spokespeople, former long-serving Hillcrest teachers Amanda Price and Ken Middleton, said appeals to the church and college boards and education authorities had failed to address alleged problems at the college.
"This is our (Battle of The) Alamo, this is the last stand," Ms Price said.
She claimed three Hillcrest staff had tried to take their own lives over their treatment at the college and said protesters were standing up for employees too afraid to attend.
Mr Middleton said: "Hopefully the church will finally wake up and do something. We've done all we can and it's in God's hands now."
After Mr Davis was reappointed last month, Hillcrest said the 'false and malicious attacks' on him had to stop, as he had been cleared by four separate independent reviews.
"His reappointment has been ratified by the Queensland Baptists board, as well as the local college board," a spokesman said.
"Mr Davis' reappointment reflects his near unanimous support within the college community."
The spokesman declined to comment on Sunday's protest but said the AGM was 'very successful'.
"All matters were overwhelmingly supported, including the migration of board control of Hillcrest to the Queensland Baptists," he said.
Originally published as Protesters crash elite school's AGM in 'last stand'