Watchdog launches probe into embattled college
THE State Government's private schools watchdog has launched an investigation into an embattled Gold Coast college.
Hillcrest Christian College has written to parents advising that the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board 'will be conducting an assessment of administration and governance of the school'.
It follows months of turmoil at the Baptist Church-run college, including unproven bullying allegations against principal Jeff Davis, the suspension and exodus of senior staff and controversy over more than $600,000 in loans to a company set up to commercialise a reading program.
The college has previously rejected reports of an NSSAB investigation and in an end-of-year staff meeting this week, Mr Davis dismissed media reports of the school's troubles as 'fake news'.
But in a letter to parents on Friday, the college board confirmed an NSSAB probe was under way.
"The assessment follows allegations made to the NSSAB which have also been made through the media on a number of occasions throughout the past year," the board said.
"The allegations have never been raised directly with the Board or through the College's formal procedures for properly dealing with complaints.
"These allegations have been damaging to the reputation of the College and our staff. We see the NSSAB assessment as an opportunity to deal with them once and for all, so the process has our full support and we will provide whatever information is requested."
The board said it was confident the college had complied with its legal and professional obligations 'at all times and we look forward to the results of the assessment in due course'.
"While the process is underway, it would not be appropriate for the Board to make any further comment," it said.
"We will update the College community of the findings of the assessment once we are able to."
A college source said the board statement was 'misleading', as multiple complaints had been made by staff, former board members and other members of the college community.
He said the board had also said that an independent investigation had cleared Mr Davis of any wrongdoing despite none of the complainants being interviewed.
The board had also said the college's Love Reading Program had been sold in a $1 million deal but no sale had occurred.
"The best thing the principal could do to protect the college would be to stand down and let a proper and truly independent investigation take place," the source said.
Mr Davis last week apologised to staff after audio emerged of him swearing and calling teachers 'nuff nuffs who can barely pass Year 12'.