Court hears evidence in case against Melbourne High School for anti-Jewish activities

The principal of a public secondary school in Melbourne, Australia, testified in court this week as part of a court case filed by five Jewish former students who claimed to have suffered years of anti-Semitic bullying, discrimination and neglect at school.

The incidents are believed to have occurred from 2013 to 2020 at Brighton Secondary College, which serves pupils in grades seven to 12.

According agePrincipal Richard Minack was questioned by the students’ attorney, Adam Butt, about the bullying experienced by the former student Zack Snelling, who was allegedly punched in the head during class and received hateful cyber messages, including one saying he was going to die and anti-Semitic Snapchat messages.

Snelling was also allegedly assaulted by a female student in a park.

Minack testified that the assault took place outside of school hours and was not within the jurisdiction of the school, which is why the assailant was not punished. He also claimed that anti-Semitic posts on Snapchat did not constitute cyberbullying.

As relayed in court, Snelling’s mother, Natalie, had asked the school to intervene and protect her son. She was told by the school’s deputy headmaster, Lee Angelidis, that ‘our hands are tied’ and ‘I suggest you find an alternative to Brighton Secondary’, according to age.

Minack said in court that ‘in hindsight’ the school ‘should have considered’ creating a plan to protect and support Snelling, reported age.

The students’ attorney also faulted the principal for not apologizing to brothers Matt and Joel Kaplan, who left the school because of anti-Semitism, to which Minack replied: “I’m happy to apologize to them now if they felt that…I’m happy to apologize now,” according to the local newspaper..

Other alumni who are suing the school are Liam Arnold-Levy and Guy Cohen.

Minack denied claims by two of the students that teacher Michael Lyons said Israel did not exist and singled them out because they were Jews. Minack said the claims are “factually incorrect and would be offensive”.

The school principal also said he had never seen swastika graffiti at the school, despite former students’ claims. He testified: “I never saw any of them doing chores in the yard. In my experience, the level of graffiti in Brighton is very low,” according to The Canberra Times.

On the rare occasion that a student complained about swastika graffiti at school, Minack said he responded by asking that it be removed, he said. However, he added, “I never inspected the sidewalk to see if it had been removed, no one reported it afterwards, so I assumed it had.”

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