A mother whose daughter was allegedly assaulted at a West Auckland high school has started a petition demanding for her "bully" to be stood down.
Jasmine MacGibbon is calling on the Ministry of Education to introduce harsher penalties for school bullies after a student who she said assaulted her daughter at Rutherford College was handed a five-day suspension and then allowed to return to class.
Meanwhile, MacGibbon's daughter is too frightened to return to school and the family are considering home-schooling her.
Police said they are making ongoing inquiries into the assault on school grounds. The ministry said it could not comment while the investigation was underway.
The 14-year-old student was leaving her English class on July 24 just before the last bell when another student approached her.
MacGibbon told the Herald the attack started because the girl thought her daughter had been spreading rumours about her.
She said her daughter was punched in the head, then had her hair grabbed and was thrown on the ground before being struck again.
"She just lost it."
MacGibbon said her daughter had two bumps on her head, blurred vision, a sore spine, sore tail-bone and ribs from being hit and thrown to the ground.
Several other students had witnessed the assault and said it was unprovoked, MacGibbon said. Later that day the student who hit her allegedly asked on her Instagram account for videos of the assault.
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MacGibbon laid a complaint with police and appealed to the board of trustees and Ministry of Education to expel the girl. The family have also applied to the courts for a restraining order.
"My daughter fears for her safety," MacGibbon said. "She hasn't been able to return to school because of this traumatic incident."
School board of trustees involved
Principal Gary Moore confirmed the mother had laid a formal complaint with the school's board of trustees and so he could not comment fully about the situation until that process was completed. He did, however, say staff management had sought advice from police.
Moore also said they felt the incident was just that - one incident - and not an ongoing pattern of behaviour that would warrant someone being called a bully.
There was also more to the situation, he said, but would not go into detail out of respect for the complaint process being carried out as well as the students and families involved.
"It's totally not okay to hit someone, but it's totally not okay to share just one side of the story,'' he said.
MacGibbon said it was unfair her daughter who was receiving counselling and was the victim should be the one to have to leave the school.
Within four days her petition calling for harsher penalties for physical assault in high schools to the Ministry of Education had about 300 signatures.
YouthLaw Aotearoa general manager Jennifer Braithwaite said schools were required to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students at school.
While there was no legislation that required schools to deal with bullying in a particular way, the Ministry of Education did recommend good practice guidelines.
The action taken by the school was often on a case-by-case basis and depended on the severity, impact and frequency of the incident, Braithwaite said.