The parents of a Melbourne pupil who allegedly suffered repeated bullying are suing his school’s headmaster and board, after the boy was expelled due to the couple’s “tone” in communications.
- A 7th grade student was expelled from Parade College in September 2021 after his parents were found guilty of breaking a code of conduct
- Parents say school and principal failed in duty of care following allegations of bullying and violence
- The family seeks damages and the reinstatement of their son
The Year 7 student was expelled from Parade College Catholic Boys’ School in September last year after principal Andrew Kuppe determined his parents had breached the school’s parent code of conduct.
Mr Kuppe claimed the pupil’s parents had made “numerous derogatory comments about members of the College’s management team”, and that the relationship was “no longer possible”.
In a statement filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria, the pupil’s parents said the school‘s governing body, Edmund Rice Education Australia, and Mr Kuppe had failed in their duty of care to the boy, who allegedly suffered a series of physically violent bullying incidents.
The family claim their son was kicked, repeatedly placed in a chokehold and had a knife pulled on him by an older student.
The documents cite 18 reported incidents involving the alleged bully directed at both the student and other classmates between February and August 2021.
In an alleged incident during class, the alleged bully grabbed the 7th grader and placed him in a headlock for at least seven seconds, before pushing him out of his seat and punching him in the head more than a dozen times.
Documents indicate that a teacher was present and witnessed the alleged assault.
A separate alleged incident took place at the home of the alleged bully.
The alleged bully allegedly pulled a knife on the then 12-year-old student and ordered him to drop a gamepad he had brought and leave the house “or else”.
“I’ll drop it [the knife] on your head if you don’t come through the door,” the alleged bully said as he forced the boy out of his house at knifepoint.
The statement said the incidents became so serious that Victoria Police visited the college to meet staff in August 2021, before filing an application for an intervention order against the alleged bully.
The bullied student was expelled a month before the claim could be heard in court.
Parade College principal defends expulsion in letter
In a letter obtained by the ABC detailing the decision to expel the pupil, Mr Kuppe said the relationship between the boy’s parents and the school had become “untenable”.
“It is apparent from the tone of your communication that you have lost faith in the College to provide you and the child with a positive educational experience,” the letter reads.
“You have made numerous derogatory comments about members of the College’s leadership team, accusing members of ‘incompetence’ and ‘gross negligence’ and questioning their ability to administer the College.
“The correspondence you sent has seriously damaged the relationship between you and the College.”
As part of the claim, the family sought damages, reinstatement of the bullied student, and a statement that his expulsion was invalid.
“Our clients are eagerly awaiting the process through the court system,” said the couple’s attorney, Mark Stanarevic of Matrix Legal.
In a statement, Parade College said it was unable to comment as the matter was before the court, but would “vigorously defend the allegations against it”.
“Parade College takes the well-being of all students, staff and parents very seriously,” a spokesperson said.
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