bullying_report.doc - REPORT OF DAVID McGEE OMBUDSMAN ON COMPLAINTS ARISING OUT OF BULLYING AT HUTT VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL IN DECEMBER 2007 Presented to the

bullying_report.doc - REPORT OF DAVID McGEE OMBUDSMAN ON...

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REPORT OF DAVID McGEE, OMBUDSMAN ON COMPLAINTS ARISING OUT OF BULLYING AT HUTT VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL IN DECEMBER 2007 Presented to the House of Representatives 2011
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REPORT OF DAVID McGEE, OMBUDSMAN ON COMPLAINTS ARISING OUT OF BULLYING AT HUTT VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL IN DECEMBER 2007 Presented to the House of Representatives 2011
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1 INTRODUCTION This is a report on an investigation into a series of violent incidents that occurred at Hutt Valley High School in December 2007. The incidents attracted considerable media attention and led to wider studies of bullying in schools by the Commissioner for Children and the Human Rights Commission. 1 The investigation was triggered by various specific complaints from a group of parents at the School, led by David Rutherford. The complaints were prompted by the School’s refusal to retract a public statement made about it having handled the incidents reasonably and responsibly. The investigation covers how the incidents were handled by the School, Child Youth and Family (part of the Ministry of Social Development), the Education Review Office, and the Ministry of Education. A chronology of events is appended to the report. The investigation involved analysis of extensive paperwork, as well as written consultation and meetings with the agencies subject to the complaints. Police were also consulted, and their documentation surrounding the incidents examined. Police are not subject to the Ombudsmen Act 1975. Their actions were not the subject of complaint though they were relevant to the actions under investigation and I have taken them into account in forming my views. This report analyses the background to the incidents, the incidents themselves and agency responses to them dealing with these in the order of the 18 specific complaints addressed to the agencies concerned. It makes three overarching recommendations to assist in avoiding similar situations in the future. 1 School Safety by the Commissioner for Children in February 2009, and School Violence, Bullying and Abuse , by the Human rights Commission in March 2009. Neither report investigated the incidents themselves, but rather looked at broader issues relevant to school violence and bullying.
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2 BACKGROUND In December 2007 there were a number of incidents of assaults of male pupils by a group of other pupils. These were initially investigated by the Acting Principal and six boys were given stand downs, three for five days and three for three days. Following complaints from a parent, the Police commenced a criminal investigation and advised the local Child, Youth and Family liaison officer of the incidents. In January 2008 there were media reports of the incidents and the then Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Acting Principal were interviewed. The Chair was quoted as describing the assaults as “minor” which was why they had not been referred to the Board for disciplinary action, while the Acting Principal said that he had no regrets about how he had handled the assaults and that “it wasn’t an assault where somebody had spilt blood”. The School subsequently issued its own
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