The West Australian


WA’s worst behaved pupils don’t back down


The head of a Rockingham school where two tradesmen were attacked by students in a violent mob attack says the teenagers involved are highly traumatise­d “broken babies”.

A day after The West published footage of the shocking ambush, students arriving at SMYL Community College yesterday bared their backsides and “flipped the bird” at The West Australian, appearing to revel in the school’s new infamy.

The Independen­t Education

Union yesterday said some of its members were

“petrified” of going to work at the college, which gets taxpayer funding to provide alternativ­e education to students who have been referred by public schools.

College director Sam Gowegati said though the incident had been “appalling”, the students involved were Year 8s new to the school, who were highly vulnerable “broken babies”.

“The reason these kids are sent here is because they’re disengaged from mainstream education,” he said. “These kids are already vulnerable . . . and they do do dumb stuff, that’s why they’re here, closed off in this area so we can manage that process.”

Police are still investigat­ing the incident that left the tradesmen shaken after about 10 teenagers ganged up on them at 1.40pm when they arrived to fix property damage.

The melee erupted after a leaking fire hydrant was fixed and the boys started verbally abusing the pair before turning violent.

Graphic footage showed the students throwing punches at the men while they were trapped in a corner amid shouts of “bomb him”. Another student was pictured climbing on a ute and shattering the windscreen with a kick. At one point the older tradesman is pictured, left, holding one of the boys in a headlock in a bid to protect his colleague as he was being set upon.

Teachers who have worked at the school told The West Australian they feared for their safety,

with physical attacks on students and staff occurring frequently. “People are scared for their lives,” one said.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said she had been contacted by a SMYL staff member concerned about violence at the school, well before Tuesday’s “horrific” incident, and had asked the Education Department to step in.

“I have asked the Department of Education to assist SMYL with what they need to resolve the issues,” she said. “The director-general has asked the department to respond to his concerns . . . and reinforced the position that all schools are

required to provide a safe environmen­t for staff.”

Mr Gowegati said some students at the non-government school, which offers alternativ­e education for at-risk students who have disengaged from mainstream schools, were “particular­ly volatile” and acknowledg­ed that teachers were fearful.

“What’s happened so far this year has been terrifying,” he admitted.

He said a full review was under way into the incident.

“We probably will have to expel some kids, but the reality is, if we expel them, no one else wants to take them,” he said.

“Our priority is to try to get these kids some kind of educationa­l outcome and get them back into mainstream society as functionin­g adults.”

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At the school yesterday.
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