Bullying culture revealed at Taranaki school

31 Jan
Saturday, January 31, 2009
NZ Herald
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A culture of bullying has been found among boarding hostel students at New Plymouth Boys’ High School with the finger of blame being pointed at a former principal.

A report released this week found a “learned behaviour of bullying” existed in the school’s boarding hostel, the Taranaki Daily News said today.

“Serious breaches of behaviour should be dealt with by the principal. The investigators found no evidence of this happening,” it said.

Lyal French-Wright, who was principal at the 1300-student school for 13 years before taking an overseas posting to a school in Qatar last year, could not be reached for comment last night.

The school’s board of trustees commissioned the independent investigation last November after the paper reported an incident where a senior boarder was allegedly badly beaten by three other students.

The incident sparked public outcry with the paper receiving dozens of letters, phone calls and emails both condemning and supporting the 126-year-old school.

The school’s board of trustees last night disputed some of the report’s findings and said incidents in the boarding house were dealt with by the principal seriously and appropriately.

“That’s wrong, what they’ve said about the hostel,” chairman Jamie Sutherland told the paper.

“When there is a serious instance of bullying within the hostel the head master is informed and participates in the decision making process and the discipline process.

“The investigators didn’t really investigate that side of it enough.”

In light of the findings, the school has pledged change and will establish a committee consisting of staff, board members and students to “address concerns identified” and report to the school monthly.

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