Violent parent receives one year ban from school

A case which resulted in someone being banned from a school for a year clearly demonstrates how institutions can act to protect the safety of staff and students from people who enter school grounds and behave in grossly inappropriate ways.

The prohibition was made by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2010 in respect of a parent who had assaulted staff.

The principal legislation governing the conduct of state schools in Queensland is the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006. Part 5 (Sections 335 – 341) relates to directions and orders about conduct or movement at or entry to premises of such schools. Section 341 provides that the Director-General may apply to the tribunal “for an order prohibiting a person from entering the premises of a state instructional institution for more than 60 days, but not more than one year”.

The tribunal is entitled to make such an order if it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that unless the order is made the respondent is likely:

“(a) to cause physical harm to, or apprehension or fear of physical harm in, another person when the other person is at the premises

(b) to damage the premises or property at the premises

(c) to disrupt the good order or management of the institution.”

In this case, a parent, "Mr F", entered the grounds of "M" State High School and committed “an unprovoked assault” on a deputy principal, during which he slammed him up against the wall “hard enough for his head to ricochet off the concrete”, and caused him “to lose consciousness temporarily, and to cause blood to start flowing from his face”.

After that, Mr F grabbed the deputy principal around the throat with both hands and slammed him into a brick wall outside the office. Another teacher came to assist, but the abuse and threats which had accompanied the assault continued. As he left, Mr F violently pushed papers and other items off the deputy principal’s desk.

The deputy principal required medical treatment and was taken to hospital by ambulance. He had lacerations and bruising to his face, bruising to his throat and soreness at the back of his head.

Mr F was subsequently charged with one count of, and pleaded guilty to, assault occasioning bodily harm. He was sentenced to a $2,000 fine and ordered to pay $750 in compensation.

In considering the criteria set out above, the matters noted by the tribunal included:

  • that the protection of people and property at M State High School and the good order and management of the school are “paramount considerations to be kept in mind”
  • the assault was a very serious one
  • the assault took place in the presence of Mr F’s son, a student at the school, a matter which was “particularly concerning” to the tribunal
  • there was evidence that Mr F had not formally apologised for the assault and had offered no undertaking in relation to his future behaviour in the school grounds (Mr F did not attend the hearing, although the tribunal was satisfied he had been informed of it).

Accordingly, the tribunal was satisfied that unless a prohibition order was made, on the balance of probabilities, Mr F was “likely to cause physical harm to persons or property located at the school or to cause fear of physical harm, or to disrupt the good order or management of the school.”

The tribunal noted that the likely degree of the probability justified a 12-month ban.

Exercising its statutory powers, the tribunal also ordered that Mr F pay a sum of $5,000 in respect of costs.

Andrew Knott

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 4, 1 June 2012, p31