Monday, December 1, 2008

About the boy who died

Timeline of events;
1992, A PE teacher is seen inappropriately touching year 8 school girls outside the Principal's office by multiple teachers who agree to turn a blind eye at Campbelltown HS
1993 A year 8 class of girls complain about their change room being invaded while they change. Principal claims no knowledge, but has entire class placed on detention underneath the alleged abuser, who claims he has to walk into the girls change rooms or they fight. He also claims he has a deal with the Principal.
1994, Principal decides I am surplus to school needs. Promotes PE teacher to year adviser of year 9.
1994, Transferred to Principal's old school of Bass Hill, which is losing numbers. Transferred to Canley Vale HS
1996, Approach Hurlstone AHS for Border Tutor position. Richard Purves looks at my belly and refuses.
1997 Approach Hurlstone again and am accepted by Joe Barea, who is pushed aside by Richard Purves.
1998 New Head Teacher Mathematics at Canley Vale HS, Helen Best. Richard Purves starts me on probation at Hurlstone. Richard claims he is concerned I'm too fat to do my job.
1999, NSW Dept of Ed. investigators call me to apologise for what they wrote to me. I get a letter from them saying that no child was raped at Campbelltown PAHS, which is code for saying graduating students didn't want to complain. I'm invited to transfer to Hurlstone but the invitation is withdrawn when Campbelltown Head Teacher of Maths meets the Hurlstone HT Maths.
2000, Richard Purves transfers my accommodation to New Block, and then declares it is uninhabitable. I am placed in the staff common room during the Olympics and the Olympic Roads Traffic Authority is given 24 hour access to my belongings and facilities.
2001 My accommodation is again declared uninhabitable. I am allowed to work at Hurlstone as a boarder tutor who doesn't reside there. One evening I meet a year 8 boy named Hamidur Rahman. He tells me of his peanut allergy over dinner. I inform the school through the head teacher welfare (Richard Purves) and Deputy Principal Joe Murray. Both threaten me with legal action if I discuss the boy's health issues with the public. I follow up with Hamidur and he promises to not give up. I am never hired to work at Hurlstone again.
2002, I buy a unit in Carramar. Hamidur dies on camp. Canley Vale HS Principal meets with Hurlstone AHS Principal and decides I am too fat to teach Maths. I am referred to Healthquest, and offered disability which I decline. Education Department calls me to say that they will ignore me as they felt I was a vexatious complainant. The legal officer claims it s because of the boy who died.
2003 New Canley Vale Principal promises to not continue any abuse I claim to have suffered from previous. I begin blogging.
2004 I take long service leave and write my autobiography. I write some 50k words a month.I am treated for sleep apnea, rated a cure.
2005 I decline going to a 20th anniversary school reunion. Philip Berry who was a senior legal adviser to the NSW Premier, and a former school friend, corresponded.
2006 A new Fairfield Director of schools is appointed by special deal. The old one goes to Hurlstone's area and the new one comes from there. He is Bruce Sander, a colleague from my first school James Meehan. I try to schedule an appointment with him, but he is shouldered aside by another, James Colebourne. Colebourne sees me and orders me to delete my blogs which contain any references to school children. He claims the authority from the 2004 NSW Teacher's code of conduct, which Philip claimed to draft. James meets three times with me, securing my deletion of all my blogs, but not my music.
2007, I wait for state election, hoping to deal with new government. ALP reelected and Della Bosca is made Education Minister. I threaten to resign. I ask him to intercede in my case. He claims he doesn't see a problem. Today Tonight say they are willing to work with me if I resign. I contact Tripodi. I tell Tripodi of my media contacts, including Today Tonight who back out. I resign and discover there is no evidence of my citizenship because Bob Carr ordered it destroyed when he removed criminalisation of voters who didn't. ICAC uninterested in case, claiming they don't think they can secure a conviction. Legal Aide won't help because I'm not Aboriginal.
2008 I become a citizen of Australia (again). I am not hired casually although many jobs are available.
2011 I write a letter to the Coroner. Police ask questions. They don't contradict anything I claim, but assert Hurlstone never knew about Hamidur's allergy.
There is no impediment to my working. No one will hire me.
Update December 12th 2011

After 4 and a half years of campaigning I have exhausted every avenue of appeal. The last to hear me was the coroner's court of NSW which delegated the issue to 2 Fairfield detectives. The two detectives clearly did not understand the issues. They did not challenge any of my testimony, but claimed at interview it was thin without specifying how it might be challenged. Then they declared through the coroner that they had found no evidence that Hurlstone had ever been warned of the allergy. They ignored my testimony and left every element unchallenged. They listened to my testimony after first asking me to accept their findings. They claimed I could submit anything but because they didn't challenge anything before later declaring it insufficient I now have no pathway for appeal. I have no job and no opportunity to gain employment in my field as my abusers are still in position and have never been challenged over their actions.

As a Christian it is my duty to forgive my abusers. I have done so, although I find that very challenging as they are not Christian themselves and do not acknowledge their abuse, but have threatened me on a number of occasions and even bragged about what they have done.
Hamidur Rahman
Beautiful Sunset
A Sydney teacher in charge of a peanut butter challenge at a school camp realised a student had gone into anaphylactic shock soon after eating the spread, an inquest was told today.

Hamidur Rahman, 13, who had a serious allergy to peanuts, was dared to eat a single mouthful of peanut butter during a camp trivia game challenge on March 20, 2002.

Hamidur, who was among 140 year 8 students on excursion from Hurlstone Agricultural High School to Yanco in south-western NSW, suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction after eating the peanut butter.
Update Item number 2292
Questions by Marie Ficarra MLC of the NSW govt.

1) Does the former Minister for Education Mr John Della Bosca acknowledge that on the 6th of April 2007, he received a letter from a former teacher of Hurlestone Agricultural High School regarding possible negligence in the death of Hamidur Rahman?

2) Can Mr Della Bosca affirm to this house that this allegation was duly investigated given the gravity of the case?

3) What steps has the Department of Education taken in liasing with Mr David Daniel Ball and his concerns for the Rahman family.
A public servant with information about Hamidur's death appropriately reported the information to the authorities and was harassed out of public service for it and threatened by two government ministers. The teacher had reported the matter of the child's condition to the head teacher welfare (boys) and the deputy principal a year in advance of the death. The public servant was silenced, threatened and sacked. The public servant was assured that staff had been informed of the condition. Clearly they hadn't. Clearly the responsible staff members were held back from the inquiry. Later, when the reporting public servant responsibly reported on the matter, a law was changed and the harassment escalated.
In reply, the following
I am advised that the Department of Education and Training has no record of a letter from a former teacher of Hurlstone Agricultural High School to Minister Della Bosca dated 6 April 2007 relating to this matter, but that an unsigned, undated message to Minister Della Bosca from a former teacher of Canley Vale High School, who also worked after school hours as a supervisor or tutor in the boarding school at Hurlstone Agricultural High School in 2001, was received by Minister Della Bosca, apparently some time in April 2007.
The Department has assumed that this is the teacher referred to in the Member's question. Two phone calls to the Member's office to verify this assumption were not returned.
I am also advised that Minister Della Bosca received a second copy of the letter as one of a number of documents sent by that teacher's local Member, who made representations to the Minister on his behalf. Allegations relating to possible negligence by staff at Hurlstone Agricultural High School were contained in the message, in addition to a range of other matters. The former teacher alleged that the school should have held, but did not hold, information about an unidentified student's allergies.
The tragic death by anaphylaxis of a student of Hurlstone Agricultural High School in March 2002 was the subject of a Coronial Inquiry conducted by Senior Deputy State Coroner Milledge. She delivered her findings on 9 September 2005. The recommendations of the Coronial Inquiry have been closely examined by the Department of Education and Training, NSW Health, non-government schools and other organisations as part of a Coronial Taskforce chaired by the Chief Health Officer. As a consequence, many changes to the management of food allergies were introduced from 2006 onwards and have become a standard part of Departmental policy and practice.
I am advised that the letter from the former teacher in April 2007 was provided 18 months after the conclusion of the inquest. The information appears not to relate to the boy who died, as it describes an event that occurred in the dining hall of the boarding house in 2001. That is, it appears to relate to a boarding student, while the boy who died was a day student.
I am advised that an extensive phone interview was conducted with the former teacher by a Chief Investigator of the Department's Employment Performance and Conduct Directorate on 19 April 2007. On being interviewed about the allegation by the Department, the former teacher indicated he did not know whether it was the same student.
The Department's legal advisers have formed the view that the information provided by the former teacher appears to be of little relevance to the matters determined by the Coroner.
I am advised that a Chief Investigator of the Department's Employment Performance and Conduct Directorate conducted an extensive phone interview with the former teacher on 19 April 2007, and that Minister Della Bosca later responded to representations by the former teacher's local Member, providing details of a contact officer should the former teacher wish to discuss matters further.
I am advised that the knowledge by staff at the school of the former student's allergy to peanuts was a matter extensively examined by the Coronial Inquiry. The findings of the Senior Deputy State Coroner were published on 9 September 2005.
A possible reply to the Government
Hamidur Rahman may have been a day student. All students are required to spend time in the boarding school in year 7.
Hamidur was in the boarding school when I met him as a casual boarder tutor supervisor.
There was no extensive phone interview, but there was a short phone call in which questions were restricted to items and yes/no replies were mainly what were accepted.
My certainty as to wether or not it was hamidur is not relevant .. it was certainly to do with peanut allergy.
The minister's response was to refer me to a departmental officer I had named as an abuser of me.
I wasn't present when the incident had occurred, and a departmental officer had advised me that the department would not talk to me as a result of the death of the boy .. prior to the coronial investigation publishing a report.
It turns out that the reason David has worked only five days out of 50 for the last school term is because he has been black listed by the same man he was referred to by Della Bosca. The figure could not have blacklisted David on his own authority .. and Della Bosca is claiming that he was a random draw .. maybe Della Bosca needs to find out who has been acting illegally in his name?
A youtube posting on my issue. I realize, after having made it, that I neglected to mention that Della Bosca did not investigate while he waited 6 to 8 weeks to time me out of IR court .. and then threatened me by referring me to an abuser.

An open letter to the Premier
More can be found at Ben's story
Facebook page for Justice for Hamidur Rahman
First person autobiography excerpts start here.
In a related similar incident in Victoria.
In related news,
ALMOST every teacher has been bullied by a colleague, a research study found.
The teacher responsible for advising staff to use peanut butter as a reward item, and who was head teacher welfare for boys when Hamidur died, posted these thoughts ..
"Richard Purves - Teacher 1978 - present

I have been here since week 6 of term 1, 1978. I got appointed here when the Minister for Education, Eric Bedford announced that they were going to decrease class sizes for junior high school from 34 to 30 so each school got maybe 1, 2 or 3 new teachers. The principal at the time Reg Clarke decided he needed another history teacher and another social science teacher. So Bob Chapman who was here as a reserve got appointed permanently and I got moved from Crookwell HS where I’d been a reserve for 6 weeks. I got a bit of a shock when I got the appointment because I’d been trying to get back to Sydney and when I saw agricultural I thought they’d sent me to Broken Hill or somewhere even worse. So I rang up in a panic and I was told it was in Sydney and then I was told it was a boarding school and I would have to live in a dormitory with 30 kids, so that panicked me even more.

Leo Curran was the new English/history master and he reassured me, he was only new himself, that no-one made him live in with kids in a room, which was quite an horrific thought. I arrived the following Monday which was one of those things you don’t forget. I was a little bit awed by Reg Clarke from what I’d heard about him, he was on the Board of Studies and one of the most senior principals in the state. I walked into his office he looked at me and said “Where’s your tie?” I said “I don’t wear ties, I don’t have any” and he said “At my school you wear a tie”. So that afternoon I was at Grace Bros at Roselands buying my first ever tie, apart from my own school tie. That was my first memory of the school, apart from seeing over 40 kids being caned at the cottage while I waited to be introduced to staff. People were sending kids out left, right and centre and belting them for not doing their poetry homework and other strange things. It would have them in jail today for hitting kids like that.

Cadets were marching around everywhere, it looked like a military camp. There were so many cadets marching around that it actually gave me a bit of a sense of foreboding that this was a pretty rough, pretty tough sort of a school. I didn’t really have any classes at first because I’d just been appointed as an extra history teacher so I sat around for weeks taking classes of sick people until they split some Year 9 and 10 classes and gave me a Year 9 and Year 10 class. In fact I had so few periods I went around and complained and they said shut up, everyone else has to teach 28 classes. So after a while I was given an English class that someone had got rid of so they could do something else around the school, so I really only had about 18 periods in my first year which was really good.

It was a very rough, tough sort of a school, it was the last year of boys only, in fact the week before I took up the appointment at Hurlstone Mr Bedford, the Minister, had announced Hurlstone was going co-ed the following year. I arrived to find the school in an uproar with the boys and male staff. There was only one female teacher in the whole school, Jenny Llewellyn, in the cottage and an English teacher. The staff and the boys were up in arms about the girls coming the following year which I thought was very strange. I thought most males would like having girls around but rugby was the worry. Rugby teams will be destroyed! We will only have 2 teams instead of six or something like that. In fact there was so much nonsense going on about it going co-ed that it even made Dolly magazine, a short article saying more or less sucked in to the idiot boys and teachers at Hurlstone for complaining about girls. I didn’t read Dolly magazine but my girlfriend at the time did and she pointed it out to me with some amusement. But that’s how much opposition there was to girls coming in the following year. It was quite concerning to a lot of the staff as well as the kids. Reg Clarke left at the end of the year as he wasn’t going to have girls at his school.

Staff smoked all over the place and when I complained I had smoke blown in my face, so there was even a lot of bullying of staff going on. It was very rough if you spoke out of turn at a staff meeting or expressed an opinion. There was a small group of aggressive people who would abuse you and hail you down. So you didn’t really get to say much on things. It was I thought a very demeaning environment the ways kids and staff were treated. The bullying was overt and practised everywhere. I wasn’t very happy here in my first year.

The girls coming changed things it was really a breath of fresh air. I noticed I had a Year 8 class in my first year here and we were doing some work on Ancient Egypt and one of the slides I showed them (we used a slide machine in those days) had a picture of some women with their breasts uncovered and the boys were giggling and I pointed out that the slave girls had their breasts uncovered and this would have been fairly normal. The boys were giggling at the word breasts, the immaturity was amazing. A couple of years later I taught the same lesson, this time there was no reaction at all with boys and girls in the same class. So yes the boys were very immature about girls and sex or anything like that.

Once the girls arrived the place started to settle down. They had to have female staff to live in because they were going to have female students. The department decided to make Year 7, as far as possible, half boys and half girls beginning the following year and every vacancy in Years 9, 10 & 11 would be filled by a girl. For some reason Yr 8 that following year wasn’t but every vacancy in 9, 10 & 11 was filled by girls. So we suddenly had in Yr 9 or 10 maybe one or 2 girls in the class. In Year 11 they admitted about 20 girls so you had 2 or 3 girls in each class. So it was a very strange situation in my first year with just boys and a few girls the following year.

The girls made a difference, I found the boys settled down a lot. Having female staff around the place meant that staff couldn’t swear and abuse kids and say things like “I’ll smash your face in if you say that again” or “Do you want a clip across the ear?” because you really couldn’t say that to girls.

The boarding school was still pretty rough. One of the staff in the cottage told me my hair would stand on its head if I knew what was going on in the boarding school in terms of violence. I had no interest in living in the whole concept appalled me what with the violence that was going on. In my second year I had a Year 7 class, it was the first co-ed year and I had a really nice boy from Narromine, I can’t remember his name, he told me he had been beaten up in the showers and had one of his teeth broken so I reported it and later that day  a staff member walked past me and said “Oh, you’re stirring up trouble in the boarding school I’m told”, so trying to protect a 12 year old boy from being beaten up in the showers and that was stirring up trouble. I was pretty disgusted with the attitude.

A practice called Preference went on, that was everyone older than you in the boarding school could order you around and virtually treat you like a slave. So Year 12 would send kids over the line to do their shopping and other things then smack them in the head if they looked sideways and if you failed BI (bed inspection) in the morning you got 4 cuts of the cane automatically and that was with the prefects failing you and the staff were told that they had to belt them whenever the prefects wanted them belted. I didn’t do any boarding school duty until my 3rd year when I was told I had to, but I refused to cane year 7 kids just because they had creases in their sheets. The prefects put in complaints about me and I was told that the Principal would get rid of me from the school if I didn’t belt everyone that the prefects wanted belted for failing minor things like having a crease in their sheets.

The violence continued in the boarding school unabated for some time. You even had some staff (this is probably controversial) in the mornings boasting about how many kids they’d hit the night before. One staff member I remember clearly boasting he’d caned all of Wentworth the night before, everyone in Wentworth Yrs 7-12. It slowed down a little bit as more and more girls came into the school and it ended up being closer to 50/50 boys and girls but that took about a decade. There wasn’t a lot of information in the community that the school was co-ed so without that publicity a lot of parents didn’t know you could send girls here. At first it was about 75/25 boys to girls then 60/40 then eventually it got to 50/50 and that slowed it down a bit. It was only the abolition of the cane at the end of 1995 by the then minister Rod Cavalier that stopped a lot of this violence that was going on here.

It appalled me that when boys were sent out of prep you were told to give them 4 cuts of the cane and the first time I did duty staff  told me to make sure I belted them as hard as I could and make them cry as far as possible because they would consider me to be a sook and a wimp if I didn’t hit them hard enough. Boys who wanted to build their numbers up, to win the competition for the most cuts of the cane in their year group, would get sent out of prep, do everything wrong when a staff member on duty was considered to be a  weak caner. Some staff had reputations as being weak caners so they always had this problem. Others had the reputation of leaving black marks across your hand that were there for 3 months and so no-one was in trouble when they were on duty.

 I’m not joking, I actually saw marks on hands that were still there 3 months later, black marks on kids hands from where they were hit with the cane. Everyone caned happily and every problem was solved using a cane. When I put some kids on detention for boarding school offences I remember quite clearly a big blond Year 9 boy saying to me “People will hate you if you do that you know, just belt us and get it over with, no-one wants to be on detention. Caning gets rid of the problem immediately” and I said “No I didn’t think it was appropriate”. I was told everyone will hate you for this. That was what you were threatened with, people/kids would hate you if you didn’t hurt them. Now to me that’s a sick society so it needed a circuit breaker which Mr Cavalier provided and I found I was                                                           
coerced by the system like everyone else because I was simply told a belting would solve any problem. But it did get better after that."
My father's old friend .. Ray Debus .. 

Ray has nothing to do with my issue .. but he is connected to Education as a researcher .. and knew me when I was young

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