Shock claims: Real reason why principal quit
POWER politics and resistance to change by some of the St Hilda's School "old guard" are allegedly what led to its principal's sudden departure, according to parents.
Others allege pushback against a proposed introduction of shorts as a uniform option was part of what pushed Dr Julie Wilson Reynolds to abruptly tender her resignation this week.
One father who spoke to the Bulletin on condition of anonymity said he believed there was a "significant culture" problem at the school.
The man, who also has links to another Gold Coast private school, said despite the similarities of structure the two schools were "worlds apart" and often parental influence was key.
"In essence there is a significant culture problem at St Hilda's. This includes resistance to change and power politics," he said.
"Unfortunately, a girl's own merit can be insufficient to succeed at St Hilda's if their parents do not have political influence at the school.
"Moreover, poor behaviour is accepted (or not addressed) if the girls involved are connected to the entrenched long-term staff and influencers of the school."
However a mother who was happy with the education and opportunities her child was receiving said she had never seen anything like that.
The father said he believed Dr Wilson Reynolds' attitude had butted up against certain embedded groups.
"We had a brief moment under Dr Wilson Reynolds' leadership where some hope was instilled and a shift for the better was occurring," he said.
"Now we return to the old status quo that is embedded in a toxic and controlling culture that offers little to the educational experience of the average girl at St Hilda's."
The father described a culture he said was closed and controlled.
"Why, I ask, is our daughter's school so significantly different to our son's school given the commonalities. I know the answer lies within the different school cultures.
"I suspect we will not persevere with St Hilda's much longer now that the old guard have re-established control at St Hilda's.
"I wonder who Dr Wilson Reynolds pushed up against and I am most certainly sad we have lost an innovative and energetic leader of the school."
In response to the claims, which the Bulletin put to the school yesterday, a St Hilda's spokeswoman replied: "At this time, we have nothing further to add. Everything that we wish to say is included in the statement we issued yesterday."
That statement, by acting principal Wendy Lauman, said Dr Reynolds' resignation was a few weeks after Junior School Head Tracey Maynard's resignation but they were not connected.
It shed little light on why Ms Reynolds was departing, other than to say "both indicated their desire to return to home and families interstate".
"The Diocese of Brisbane and St Hilda's School Council has thanked Dr Wilson Reynolds for her leadership, outstanding contributions to the school and her devotion to the pastoral care of students and staff," it added.
Another mother said she also believed Dr Wilson Reynolds' decision to leave was because of the "archaic old-girls viewpoint."
"There was talk things like shorts were going to be introduced and those that had been at the school for a long time weren't happy with it. Sounds like she (Dr Wilson Reynolds) just didn't want to put up with it any more,'' the mother said.
"Parents say old girls have had the run of the school for a century, and a lot of the decisions weren't matching the old-girl vision."