Hunter family withdraws student from high school over bullying claims

THE family of a Maitland Grossman High School student allegedly bullied by a teacher and peers have withdrawn him from the school, amid a flurry of messages from other pupils alleging abuse.

The boy’s sister wrote a Facebook post on Tuesday that has since been shared more than 6800 times outlining the bullying of her brother, which she said started with minor incidents but escalated in March to major incidents, which allegedly included students pulling his pants down and a teacher locking him in a storeroom and telling him the class was a “better place without him in it”.

The sister said the school contacted the family late on Wednesday to set up a meeting. “It’s too late,” she told the Newcastle Herald. “There’s nothing [they] can say that will stop this. Sitting in a room with [them] is not going to do anything for him.”

A Department of Education spokesperson said the department and the school take the allegations very seriously.

“Bullying of any sort is not tolerated in NSW government schools,” the spokesperson said. “The bullying allegations are being investigated at the school level, including an offer to meet the family. Support is also being offered. Any allegations involving staff have been referred to the Department’s Employee Performance and Conduct Directorate.”

The sister said she wanted a formal letter of apology to her brother “so he knows someone has recognised what has happened and the experiences he has gone through”. She wanted the school to offer more support to bullying victims.

The sister said the family had visited the school and called at least a dozen times to report the incidents and request a meeting. She said they were told they would receive a call to set up a time – but never heard back.

The sister said she had concerns for her brother’s mental health on Tuesday, which prompted her to call the school. She said she also called the department to make a formal complaint, before taking to Facebook. “The response was unfathomable,” she said. “Within seven minutes I had four people from the school message me to say they’d been bullied too and it’s now up to more than 40.

“This is a much bigger issue now – there are kids out there who are scared and need help. The school has failed in its duty of care.”

When she called the school on Tuesday afternoon, she said she asked if any incident reports had been made or any notes about the alleged bullying put on the boy’s file, but didn’t receive an answer.

She was told the next available appointment was next Monday.  “I hung up. It’s just not good enough,” she said.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 Kids Helpline:  1800 55 1800

This story School ‘failed duty of care’ first appeared on Newcastle Herald.