Principal accused of calling lockdown over ‘wrong shoes’


PARENTS are furious after a Gold Coast principal allegedly called a lockdown after arguing with a student who was wearing the wrong shoes and defied his instructions.

Year 12 student Brodie Miles alleged St Michael's College principal Anthony Elmore berated him in a classroom for the uniform breach, provoking a verbal outburst before the lockdown was called on March 19.

Brodie's mum Jacqui filed a formal complaint with Brisbane Catholic Education about Mr Elmore's behaviour. Brisbane Catholic Education oversees St Michael's and other Gold Coast Catholic schools.

Mrs Miles said fellow students were traumatised by the lockdown as they believed an active shooter was on campus, with children texting final goodbyes to parents.

Jacqui and Brodie Miles. Picture: Jerad Williams
Jacqui and Brodie Miles. Picture: Jerad Williams

She said Mr Elmore's decision to call a lockdown was excessive and irresponsible.

"You do not call a lockdown unless absolutely necessary. This was a kid who wore the wrong shoes, was harassed, bullied and provoked and then yelled at by the principal. At no point was the school in danger.

"Brodie left that afternoon and will never be back. But the school has not called once."

BCE said it was unable to comment on matters involving any individual student or incident at its schools but "places the highest priority on the safety, wellbeing and support of our students and staff".

"We have policies and procedures in place to ensure any complaints and concerns raised by staff, students and families are investigated and dealt with in full confidentiality and with the utmost respect for the privacy and dignity of those involved," BCE said in a statement.

The Bulletin reported on a St Michael's College lockdown at the time, with a parent saying their daughter had sent a message at 3pm advising she had "just got out of lockdown" but wasn't aware of what caused it.

Brodie said his behaviour was not blameless but the principal's actions shocked him.

Brodie said he was told to report where he would be required to sit in solitude for the school day.

"I said no and just kept going to my classes. I don't see why wearing the wrong shoes should put you in isolation," Brodie said.

Brodie Miles. Picture: Jerad Williams
Brodie Miles. Picture: Jerad Williams

"In my last period, Mr Elmore came in with another teacher and he just said 'come with me'. He didn't tell me what was happening so I said no. So then he sat down right next to me and was just death staring me in the eyes, leaning right over me and telling me he would expel me right there," Brodie alleges.

"It was so embarrassing, I was so mad at how he was treating me. Finally I just exploded and told him everyone hates him and all of the teachers think he's a bully and that I wanted to hit him.

"I know I shouldn't have done that. But I don't see how that was enough to call a lockdown and freak everyone out. His behaviour was worse than mine.

"I just left the classroom, got my skateboard and skated home."

Mrs Miles said Brodie had attended St Michael's since Year 7 but it was no longer the same school.

She said Brodie would now enter the workforce rather than return to school.

"I really wanted Brodie to go to a great school and he was so happy at St Michael's," said Mrs Miles.

"Brodie loved playing music and he would perform in church or in the school's Gigs on the Green, he was a part of the community.

"Brodie got in trouble sometimes for having the wrong shoes or haircut, we're not great at all the rules and regulations, but he's always been a good kid.

"I've been inundated with so many messages from other parents and Brodie from other students supporting us, they believe the way this was handled and Mr Elmore's behaviour was wrong.

"Their own children were terrified that day - all over a pair of shoes."

St Michael's college in Carrara. Picture: Tertius Pickard
St Michael's college in Carrara. Picture: Tertius Pickard

It's not the first time St Michael's principal has been the source of controversy. Last year Mr Elmore settled with six teachers who alleged he bullied them over a two-year period at the Catholic school.

The teachers took their allegations against Mr Elmore to the Fair Work Commission seeking an order to stop bullying. Mr Elmore rejected their claims.

Both parties later signed an agreement in which they maintained their respective stances, but Mr Elmore "acknowledged that some interactions that have been had and some decisions that have been made, in the course of his role as Principal, have created anxiety and concerns for some of the Applicants, which may have impacted on their wellbeing.

"While this was not the intent of the Respondent, he apologises for the impact these interactions have had."

As part of the agreement, Mr Elmore, with the support of BCE, agreed to commit to any training or support offered to create a positive, collaborative and consultative working relationship, including 'training relating to maintaining interpersonal relationships'.

BCE initially stated an extra 200 students had been enrolled at St Michael's College since Mr Elmore was appointed principal in mid-2018. BCE was forced to correct those claims as enrolments have actually declined since his arrival.

Originally published as Coast principal accused of calling lockdown over 'wrong shoes'