Students march despite dad's plea
THE father of a Northern Rivers boy killed in a school fight yesterday begged students to call off a protest.
But the mourning man's words fell on deaf ears as hundreds of determined students took to the streets of Mullumbimby.
About 600 people marched from Mullumbimby High School and through the town following the death of Jai Morcom, 15, who died at Gold Coast Hospital on Saturday after suffering head injuries allegedly during a fight at school on Friday.
Grieving dad Steven Drummond told students at the school's entrance yesterday that they should be paying their respects, not protesting.
“You should all be over there near that shrine just paying your respects to my son in a heartfelt way, that's what you should be doing now, not marching up the street,” Mr Drummond.
“You fight and you bicker all the time and have your petty stupid little fights.
“The issue here is to change something within the school and find a bit of peace.”
Jai will be buried after a public funeral in a Mullumbimby park on Saturday.
“On Saturday at 11 o'clock I want all of you children to come down and celebrate my son leaving this world in a peaceful and beautiful way,” Mr Drummond said.
Students say a culture of violence and bullying has been allowed to fester at the school.
Concerned parent Sue-Anne Arthur said a small group of heavyweight students were the culprits responsible for the bullying at the school.
“It's just a small group of bullies but they are strong,” she told reporters.
“They're bigger than most boys and they have control over them.
“They run the football every lunch time and it just seems to be this thuggery by the footy heads.
“They're a powerful group here. The most powerful.”
Another parent, Carole Sapeer, said the blame should lay with the education department and not the principal.
“It's easier to blame him simply because he is here but it's not his fault, it's a problem in all schools,“ she told reporters.
Up to nine counsellors will attend Mullumbimby High School to assist grieving students, while two school counsellors and five local principals were on hand to offer support to staff, Ms Firth said.
Mullumbimby High School P&C Association hit back at critics, saying media reports of a culture of violence and bullying were not reflective of the school culture.
“We are all shocked and extremely saddened by the events of Friday,“ association president Mark Collinson said in a statement.
“It is important that we stick together as a broader community and support our school and its leadership as well as its staff and students.”
One of Jai's classmates, known only as Jess, described him as “the nicest guy I have ever met in my life”.
“Why does it always have to happen to the good people?
“He did nothing wrong. He wasn't violent.”
The trouble had been going on for a long time at the school, she said.
Police are continuing their investigations and interviews at the school.