NZ Herald reports:
Current and former students have thrown their support in behind a Northland Catholic school teacher who was fired after he supported a gay rights protest.
Nigel Studdart was dismissed from Pompallier Catholic College in Whangarei on Tuesday evening after a four-hour meeting with the school’s Board of Trustees.
Last month the school’s principal Richard Stanton wrote comments in the school newsletter opposing The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, which passed its first reading in Parliament.
Mr Studdart was then suspended for supporting a protest at the school which involved students wearing rainbow ribbons or armbands to show their support for gay marriage.
I think the principal was unwise to write comments on a non-educational issue on the school newsletter. And good on the students for expressing their views via a protest.
But Mr Studdart was wrong to join and support that protest. He is a teacher, employed by the Principal. He could have told the principal directly he thought his column was wrong. He could have lobbied colleagues to support him. He could have written to the Board.
But you can’t have a teacher take part in a protest action against the principal. Few schools would allow it.
It is a huge shame, what has happened. It is clear Nigel Studdart was a popular and effective teacher, who cares deeply for his students. Hopefully he will be employed elsewhere. But he did make a serious error of judgement in supporting a student protest against the principal.