School’s spate of violence before vice-principal ‘headlock’
A vice-principal who allegedly dragged a 16-year-old schoolboy after a violent brawl has been defended by students from his school.
Shocking footage emerged from the violent incident at Berwick Secondary College this week, but a number of students contacted the Herald Sun on Wednesday night to express support for the vice-principal.
One student said the teacher "did what he had to do to ensure no one else was put in hospital".
Another said he "was helping in the best way he could".
Three students, who asked not to be named, said they witnessed the attack and described the footage as only capturing the end of the incident.
They said they saw a teacher being put in a headlock and his head banged against a wall before another teacher stepped in to restrain a student.
"The assistant principal - he was not physical, not extra, not anything uncalled for, just restrained him," the students told the Herald Sun. "Our teachers are really good."
Another student said a female teacher had also been punched in the face.
"There was an email sent out saying if students don't feel safe, they can have a day off and to use school counselling. We didn't go to school today. Our parents didn't want to send us," the girls said.
The students also said their school was put into lockdown for almost two hours on Tuesday as the fight unfolded.
The brawl was said to have been one of several incidents that have unfolded over the past two weeks at the school.
In the past week alone, there have allegedly been three separate fights, the students said.
It comes as the furious parents of the teenager say the shocking video shows their son being held by the vice-principal in a headlock before others, including the student's younger brother, pulled the senior staff member away.
It is not clear what prompted the incident, but it is believed the vice-principal was trying to intervene and break up a fight between two groups of boys.
It's understood the staff member was trying to put an end to the violent brawl and to stop students from being hurt.
Three students aged between 14 and 16 were arrested at the school.
The mother, who didn't want to be named, said the footage was "confronting to watch" and wants the vice-principal removed while the incident is being investigated.
The distressing alleged incident came at the tail end of a brutal fight involving 15-20 students at the Manuka Rd campus on Tuesday.
It forced the school in lockdown, with students ordered to seek refuge under desks in their classrooms, until police arrived.
"My son was placed in a headlock by the deputy principal and suffered grazes and severe neck pain as a result," the mum claimed.
"My other 14-year-old son then came to his aid - it was confronting to watch.
"My sons including my 13-year-old son that had nothing to do with the incident have been stood down by the school and can't return while the investigation is ongoing but the other students involved haven't been reprimanded."
The woman said she was angry and believed her sons had been wrongfully targeted as a result of the incident.
"There is footage of them circulating on social media showing both of my sons walking out in handcuffs and this is distressing as all they were trying to do was defend themselves."
The Herald Sun is not suggesting either party was at fault, only that the incident took place.
The family has been told via text message that the children are not allowed back at school until a meeting is held next week.
Berwick Secondary College principal Kerri Bolch released a statement on Tuesday through the Department of Education following the incident, to say there was "an altercation between students at the school earlier today, which prompted us to enact our lockdown procedure".
A 17-year-old boy was taken to hospital with minor injuries and has since been discharged.
The police investigation remains ongoing.
AEU Victorian Branch president Meredith Peace said the incident was "deeply concerning".
"Principals, teachers and support staff, like everyone else, are entitled to work in a safe environment. Violence, whether physical or verbal, is not acceptable and should not be tolerated," Ms Peace said.
The Department of Education spokesman said incidents of this nature were "relatively rare" in Victoria's more than 1,500 government schools.
"On average, there are less than two violent incidents per school, per year in Victoria," the spokesman said.
"Violence in schools is completely unacceptable however if it does occur, we take it seriously.
"We have been in close contact with Berwick Secondary College to provide staff and students with additional support services at the school.
"This includes Student Support Services, confidential counselling for staff and Principal Health and Wellbeing services to assist those who need it."