Student expelled after mum’s school criticism
A STUDENT has been kicked out of an embattled Gold Coast private college through no fault of his own, after his mother raised concerns about the school's operations.
Hillcrest Christian College forced Year 11 student Jordan Arnold to leave the school last month, saying mutual trust and confidence with his mother Robyn had broken down in breach of his enrolment contract.
College lawyers, who had previously noted Jordan was a well-respected and well-liked student, confirmed his termination last week after Mrs Arnold refused to sign a "gagging order" which could have allowed Jordan to remain at the school he has attended since kindergarten.
Mrs Arnold, who alleges the college has been trying to silence her, says her son is devastated and she is seeking legal advice on a possible court injunction to have him reinstated.
"We sat on the couch and bawled together for at least 15 minutes - I just kept wiping his tears and holding him," she said.
"He's 16 years old, almost halfway through Year 11 and has been attending Hillcrest since kindergarten, this is his second home.
"All his mates are there and he wants to graduate with them."
Mrs Arnold's family have been long-time members of the Reedy Creek Baptist Church, which operates Hillcrest, but she has emerged as a thorn in the school's side.
She said her problems began last year when a petition was organised calling for Hillcrest principal Jeff Davis to be stood down pending an independent investigation.
Private schools watchdog, the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board, later launched an investigation into Hillcrest's administration and governance.
In a letter to Mrs Arnold and her husband in February, the college said Jordan's enrolment contract stipulated that the agreement could be terminated if mutual trust and confidence broke down.
"There have been numerous examples of conduct by Mrs Arnold over the past six months that demonstrates Mrs Arnold's lack of trust and co-operation with the college," it said.
These included allegations that she organised meetings seeking to undermine the board and leadership team and have Mr Davis removed.
Last month, college lawyers offered to negotiate Jordan's re-enrolment - noting that he was a well-respected and well-liked student - on the condition his mother signed a confidential undertaking.
Mrs Arnold's lawyers responded that she would not sign a "gagging order" but would undertake to refrain from public comment about the college and not attend P&F meetings in person.
In a letter last week, Hillcrest lawyers advised that re-enrolment negotiations were at an end and the college would defend any legal action.
Mrs Arnold said she could not understand how her son could be kicked out of the school because she was asking questions and demanding answers which they "refused" to provide.
Jordan said: "Even though it hurts, I don't blame my Mum at all, I would rather her
stand up for others and do what is right …. even if it means the school takes it out on me.
"My mum has done nothing wrong. She's all about justice."
Mr Davis said: "Hillcrest was prepared to work with Mrs Arnold towards a solution, but she was not prepared to meet her responsibilities as a parent at the college.
"We're extremely disappointed for Jordan, but Mrs Arnold was not prepared to abide by the parent code of conduct."
Hillcrest has been rocked by turmoil, including unproven bullying allegations against Mr Davis, the suspension and departure of senior staff and controversy over a private company set up to commercialise a reading program.
Last week, the college announced it was standing down dozens of staff as its $30 million annual budget came under pressure in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
The college has said it engaged in "fair process" to terminate Jordan's enrolment.
Originally published as Student expelled after mum's salvo at school