Security called in to elite school meeting after leaks
A SECURITY guard has been called in to keep watch at an embattled Gold Coast private school staff meeting in a bid to stop damaging leaks.
Sources say the guard was posted at Tuesday's staff meeting at Hillcrest Christian College to monitor phone use after principal Jeff Davis complained his address at a meeting on Monday had been leaked to The Courier-Mail.
"The staff were treated like kids … it was ridiculous," a source said.
"The security guard was standing over them if they had their phones out, making sure they weren't recording the meeting."
Mr Davis ordered staff not to tape the meeting before warning them that the leaks were contributing to the 'death' of independent schools like Hillcrest.
Hillcrest has been rocked by months of turmoil including bullying allegations against Mr Davis, which he denies, the suspension and departure of senior staff and controversy over hundreds of thousands of dollars in school loans to a private company set up to commercialise a reading program.
The college board is standing by Mr Davis, saying an "independent" investigation had cleared him of any wrongdoing - despite an admission that none of the complainants had been interviewed.
The Independent Education Union, which represents Hillcrest staff, has expressed 'grave concerns' about the investigation while angry members of the Reedy Creek Baptist Church which owns the college are demanding the board call an extraordinary meeting.
Mr Davis told staff on Monday to 'pray for the school' as it was being 'looked at' by State Government watchdog the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board and the wider community.
On Tuesday, he told staff that the college received $17 million in government funding.
"We are being watched," he said.
"There's people all around Australia watching and they're actually people who don't want Christian schools to exist. Forget about your hatred of me - they don't want Christian schools to exist. This is the thing we're playing with.
"Do not tell me that this is what Christ planned for us - that we're going to be the death of Christian schools? That we're going to be the death of independent schools?
"There are some issues, we've got to sort them out we will sort them out, but we're not going to play it out in the paper. We're trying to resolve it but let's do it behind closed doors - can we just agree with that?"
Mr Davis told staff that "enough is enough".
"I've had enough … I'm imploring you to become part of the team," he said.
"If there are people who've got issues, come and talk to me."
He said staff had voiced fears they would be sacked if they raised concerns.
"That's not going to happen - let's be very clear, that is not going to happen," he said.
"I'm here to honour God. If you come to me with the right heart that you actually want to work something out, I'm going to work it out with you.
"We need to sort this out and move on."
Mr Davis quoted one parent describing Hillcrest as 'the best school in the world' while others were even moving from overseas to educate their children at the college.
He said he would 'get cranky' and it was 'really hard to keep every one of you happy' but this was not bullying.
Mr Davis said he had been cleared by two 'full, independent' investigations.
"Nobody has questioned me because there has been no need to question me," he said.
"Some people want a third investigation … fine. I am not opposed to a third investigation. But the cost of each of these investigations to the school is incredible.
"There is a point where we've got to say enough is enough and move on."