AN independent investigation into shocking claims of antisemitic bullying at Brighton Secondary College continues, while legal action has now been taken by a number of alleged victims.
The investigation was launched by the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) after The AJN broke what would become a series of alarming reports of alleged antisemitic bullying at the school that included Jewish students experiencing verbal taunts from staff and students, and physical threats from classmates, including one Jewish child who was threatened with a knife.
Barrister Adam Butt and law firm Slater and Gordon have been appointed as legal counsel. According to Slater and Gordon public liability principal lawyer Barrie Woollacott, the school had failed to take appropriate action to combat the antisemitic atmosphere, and on countless occasions failed to take specific action against perpetrators of racial abuse.
“For these young kids to have to go to school every day and endure the vilification of their religion and culture to the point where they had to leave the school, is shocking, and has impacted each of them significantly,” he said, adding the school had a duty of care to protect its students from this kind of behaviour and to have proper processes in place to deal with it.
“We are encouraging any other families and students from Brighton Secondary College or other schools or institutions to come forward with their experiences to ensure proper actions are taken to prevent this happening to students going forward.”
While a spokesperson for the DET said the department is currently unaware of any legal proceedings, they confirmed the independent investigation is still underway.
Despite its findings being due for release last week, the timeframe has now been extended until next month. The AJN understands that further complaints against the school have been received with investigators requesting the extended deadline to ensure they can meet with the impacted families, and thoroughly review the large volume of relevant records and correspondence.
“It is important that we get this right, and we are expecting a final report with findings and recommendations once this inquiry is completed in mid-September,” said the DET spokesperson.
The mother of two Jewish boys who were allegedly bullied at the school, told The AJN, “Finally the victims will have their voices heard and not suffer in silence.
“This should never have gone this far. Now changes need to happen to ensure that every Jewish child is safe at school.”