You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
When Damien Goodsir, who is also a pastor at Oamaru’s House of Breakthrough, spoke to the Otago Daily Times last week about independent school governance consultant Cleave Hay’s report into religious instruction, chaplaincy roles and possible conflicts of interest at the school, he said: "Other than these two parents that are complaining, the majority of everything else is going really, really well."
When the report was made public last week it showed about 17 out of the school’s 213 families or "around 8% of the Fenwick community are opposed to religious influences at the school".
"I apologise," Mr Goodsir wrote.
"I was wrong, and it should have read (sic) ‘some’ parents. I am sorry for any offence this has caused any parents of the school."
The ODT was contacted by two parents with children at the school and a secular education campaigner last week who took issue with Mr Goodsir’s remarks.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said Mr Goodsir had lied. She asked if the school had offered to correct Mr Goodsir’s remarks.
"There are plenty of parents with a copy [of the report] who would probably be quite happy to have the record corrected," she said.
"It is really difficult for the parents at the school [to speak publicly about their concerns]. It’s not like we don’t want to say anything — believe me we would love to — but to put our names on the record, in the paper and so on, not only would we become a target but our children would as well, and we can’t risk that.
"It’s a pretty contentious subject. And of course there’s a lot of people who just want it to go away, and I understand that as well. It’s for the good of the school, but unfortunately what Mr Goodsir has said has sort of backed it all up again. And that’s really unfortunate."
Last year, prior to Mr Hay’s report, Mr Goodsir was publicly questioned for a sermon he gave saying "sports teams ... boards ... businesses ... clubs or groups, neighbourhoods, workplaces, schools or churches ... all need to be infiltrated with the kingdom of heaven".
He told the ODT at the time he regretted his choice of words.
After the school board received Mr Hay’s report it enacted a raft of changes and Mr Goodsir stepped away from his roles in religious instruction and chaplaincy at the school.
In keeping with Mr Hay’s report, the board also decided to form a "complaints handling committee" for religious instruction complaints. Mr Hay’s report suggested more complaints would be made.
"Some parents openly shared that they will not desist until RI [religious instruction], in particular, is removed entirely from the school, which will likely mean ongoing work for the complaints handling committee, but the board, through sound and fair governance process, must ensure their focus is not distracted from students’ educational engagement, progress and achievement."
Principal Lloyd Bokser could not be reached for comment.