School assault offenders will be 'severely dealt with' - principal

5:20 pm on 28 May 2018

Up to three students are likely to be suspended from a South Auckland high school after a bullying incident left a teenager in hospital, the school's principal says.

James Cook High School Principal Grant McMillan.

James Cook High School principal Grant McMillan Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

A 16-year-old student from James Cook High School in Manurewa was taken to Middlemore Hospital after he was tripped up, punched once and hit his head on the ground.

Principal Grant McMillan said it was a bullying incident involving two or three others.

"There were duty staff around at the time so the student who was bullied was foot-tripped and punched once. During that he fell to the ground and it was a sealed area and he hit his head."

Staff arrived quickly and called an ambulance, he said.

A school nurse had travelled to hospital with the student and stayed until his family arrived.

"As she left he was sat up in bed smiling and chatting which is great," Mr McMillan said.

The teenager had since been discharged from hospital.

Mr McMillan said although the police were working through the matter, he was assuring students and parents the students would be "held fully responsible within our school's discipline system".

"[For] the students who have broken our expectations we've got a very very simple response, serious bullying involves police because actually we're trying to grow fine young citizens here."

While the school was yet to get the details of what was behind the incident he suspected it was a result of a "falling out" over the weekend.

"I don't know that yet, we've still got to do our work on that, there doesn't seem to be a pattern."

The students would likely be suspended and brought before the school's board of trustees to decide the next steps.

"As of today [bullying] is a problem in our school. We survey our students regularly, we get really good data about how safe they feel and the likes, but we also spent the last seven weeks leading up to the pink shirt day last week and that was a major focus; making our school a better place to be.

"The vast majority of students want our school to be a good and safe place to be, they want to be part of a school they can be proud of. From time to time these things happen, sadly it's happened - I'm not happy about that, far from it - but we will deal with it as it happens."

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Police said they were called to James Cook High School just before 11.30am, but are not commenting to the media.

One parent, Michael Marsters, who was waiting to take his daughter home from the school, said he was concerned when he heard about the assault and wanted to make sure she was fine.

At that stage, he said the office had only told him something went wrong and there was a misunderstanding.

Another father, Ben, who was also there to pick up his daughter after school said the bullying was worrying.

"She's basically quite new here, this is probably her fourth week into the school," he said.

"This is very concerning, I just don't want my children to be in [that] kind of environment, it's quite scary."