Students support fired teacher

By Paul Harper

Nigel Studdart, who was dismissed from Pompallier School after he supported a gay rights protest. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Nigel Studdart, who was dismissed from Pompallier School after he supported a gay rights protest. Photo / Michael Cunningham

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.

The board issued a statement to the college community which said: "The Pompallier Catholic College BOT advises the school community that Nigel Studdart will not be returning to the College as a teacher. We wish him well for the future."

Mr Studdart is understood to have been asked to leave the school.

Several students have left messages on the popular science teacher's Facebook page disappointed with the school's decision.

"i cant believe it, just like that my favourite teacher is gone," Leshego Mpe wrote.

"There goes the best teacher in the school ='( good luck with whatever you plan to do now," Nikki Bedford added.

"The whole family is outraged by this. The whole family are supporting you with any decision you make. Thanks to you I felt so confident in my chem and bio paper today! You were the best teacher!" Zoe Pearse said.

Parents were even considering moving their children to different schools following the dismissal.

"We are all very, very upset about this - I know for a fact, some of the BOT Trustees members do not agree with Mr Stanton's decision - makes me wonder..... Pompallier has lost one of the best teachers they have and we are seriously considering moving our son to a different school - we have no faith in Pompallier College at all. As well as a fantastic teacher, you are a wonderful man - you aren't the one who should be leaving that school," Sharon Teh wrote.

Mr Studdart wrote on Facebook that he will be in France at his son's wedding this weekend and will consider his future when he returned next week.

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.

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