A person holding a bible
It is being claimed a student has been expelled for preaching from the Bible. Image by AP PHOTO

Claims of Christian student’s expulsion not God’s honest truth

David Williams April 19, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

A New Zealand student has been expelled for preaching Christianity on school grounds.

OUR VERDICT

False. The student has not been expelled but is under investigation for allegedly encouraging pupils to ignore teachers and truant class.

It is being claimed that a New Zealand school has expelled a student for preaching from the Bible in front of his contemporaries.

The claim is false. The student has not been expelled. While the incident is under investigation, the school has said this is due to students refusing to go to class.

The claims relate to an incident at Pakuranga College in Auckland from April 7.

Social media videos depict a student preaching from the Bible on what appears to be the school field during a lunch break. Teachers can be seen trying to break up the crowd.

It is claimed a student has been expelled for preaching at school
 A number of social media posts claim the boy has been expelled as a result. 

Several resulting social media posts erroneously make the expulsion claim, examples here, here, here and here.

“Pakuranga College student was expelled today for reading scripture to a group of students who chose to gather and listen,” reads one of the posts. 

Another states: “The schools in NZ are forced to engage in a whole week called pride week to support gay and different genders but if the kids choose to read and listen to the bible from one of the pupils in their off time they get expelled.”

Some of the posts also link an online petition, which perpetuates claims the student was expelled.

It reads: “In Pakuranga College a boy named (name withheld) was expelled for spreading the gospel. This is wrong towards Christian’s (sic).”

Both the school and the student confirm he has not been expelled.

On his Instagram page, the student posted about the incident: “What’s next? Well as I am currently under investigation (hi Mr Williams) I am suspended until the board makes a decision as to whether I will be allowed back in school or not.”

The school also said he has not been expelled. It also disputes that the student has been suspended, but does say he is under investigation.

Principal Michael Williams told AAP FactCheck that teachers dispersed the students to move them off to class, not because the student was preaching.

“The teachers initially tried to move the students out of the rain, then later as the lunch break was ending the staff tried to get the students to start moving off to class, most did,” Mr Williams said in an email. 

“Once classes had started the staff became insistent that remaining students go to class, they refused and staff left them in the rain.”

When asked if the student had been or would be disciplined, Mr Williams said: “The students who refused to go to class will most likely face disciplinary action, but no decisions have been made. Once school resumes on April 26 and staff and students are spoken to decisions around disciplinary action will be made.

School students
 The school will decide what action to take when students return to classes after the holidays. 

“All of the students who refused to go to class will face some disciplinary action, the young man at the centre of things will also have to answer for encouraging the younger students to ignore staff instructions and truant class.”

In a statement to NZ media, he reiterated that the incident concerned trying to get students to class. He said: “We have rules about attending class, not to impugn free speech, but to ensure students are in class receiving their education.

“Staff moved to wind up the gathering at the warning bell. It was raining heavily, and students should have been moving off the field to more sheltered areas and to class at this time.”

As the incident happened on the last day of term, he said the school would be unable to fully investigate what happened until school resumes.

In line with Mr Williams’ comments on the expulsion claim, under NZ Ministry of Education rules pupils can only be excluded (children under 16) or expelled (children over 16) by the school board.

The Verdict

The claim an Auckland student has been expelled for preaching Christianity on school grounds is false.

The school principal and student at the centre of the incident have separately confirmed there has been no expulsion. 

The school has said that the teachers’ attempts to break up the group was part of an effort to move the students back to class and out of the rain. The principal said it had not been about curtailing freedom of speech.

False ÔÇö The claim is inaccurate

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP. For more information, please refer to our standard terms and conditions.