7 August 2020

Brindabella school board loses another member, parents in the dark

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Brindabella Christian College

Brindabella Christian College has lost another board member. Photo: File.

Another long-term Brindabella Christian College board member and a recently appointed company officeholder have both left Brindabella Christian College, but parents say that many had no idea there had been yet more changes to the troubled school’s governance.

David Whittem had been one of just three remaining board members at Brindabella. Forms submitted to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission reveal that he left the board on 19 December last year.

Wendy Chesworth resigned from the Board on 2 March this year. At that stage, ASIC documents showed that Alyn Doig, David Whittem and longstanding chair Greg Zwajgenberg remained on the board.

But there is no explanation as to why Mr Whittem’s resignation is now dated to the end of last year, several days after the disastrous end-of-year assembly where school captain Rachael Jayatilaka was censured when she raised the adverse impact of the school’s governance issues.

Mr Whittem is still listed on the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission website as a director.

However, declarations show that Allan Davis joined the board in February. Mr Davis is also a board member of Capital Edge Community Church Incorporated and Acc International Relief Inc.

The board must have a membership of three, suggesting that Ms Chesworth’s departure was timed to enable minimum statutory requirements to be met.

Mr Whittem told Region Media “I don’t think there is any need to make a comment whatsoever” and said the discrepancy in timing was “likely to be an oversight”.

“Trouble has come from people who have troubles, not from the board,” he said. “The board is not paid, it is totally voluntary with the best interests of the school at heart.”

Mr Whittem said he was “absolutely confident” about decisions made by the board during his tenure.

“You get a lot of false information and negatives, running on what is colloquially known as factoids – fact and fiction,” he said. “The school is run on a good basis.”

The ASIC declarations also show that Brendon Major, who ran the IT contract at the school and was then appointed as the board’s secretary has ceased as an officer of the company. Mr Major held a senior finance role within the school.

Region Media has been told there are conflicting stories in the school community about the circumstances of his departure, but he has now been replaced as a company officer by Jay de Mel, who joined the school last year.

Parents say the movements at board level have been shrouded in secrecy and are the subject of unconfirmed rumours among the broader school community.

The school is currently undergoing an investigation by the ACT Education Directorate and Brindabella parents say they’ve been advised that Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan’s office is also engaged in reviewing the school’s compliance with State and Federal regulations.

READ ALSO Federal education minister tells Brindabella parents he’s looking closely at school

“We have lost key individuals while the school’s compliance is being investigated,” a parent told Region Media. “Things are constantly changing but there is no transparency.

“The school has not notified staff about who their effective employer is and parents have not been notified about who they are signing a contract with.

“There are requirements around the school being run in a fit and proper manner, but people have no idea what is really happening.”

Region Media has also been told that more teachers left at the end of last semester, including the careers advisor for Year 12 students.

“The kids at Brindy just get let down again and again and again,” the parent said.

Brindabella Christian College and Brendon Major have been contacted for comment.

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Stephen Saunders10:39 am 08 Aug 20

Brindy Board is the gift that keeps on giving. No doubt Dan Tehan will come down like a ton of SRS funding. I mean a ton of bricks.

Hairy nosed wombats and orange bellied parrots can only look in envy at the extraordinary protection for denominational schools.

Gee, I’d be worried if I was paying fees at that place. The governance is not looking state of the art.

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