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'Right move to close down elite school': court

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The burns sustained by one of the students. Photo: Polisen
09:42 CEST+02:00
A Swedish court ruled on Wednesday that the country's school inspectorate was right to close down prestigious boarding school Lundsberg, where pupils used a hot iron to scald a newly enrolled student in a hazing ritual.

Sweden's Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) ruled on Wednesday that Sweden's School Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) was correct in shutting down the Lundsberg school.

In late August, the inspectorate demanded Lundsberg be closed down temporarily. Later that night, the school's principal of ten years, Staffan Hörnberg, was sacked and the entire board resigned as news of the scandal continued to spread, making echoes around the world. 

In November, another court had ruled that the inspectorate did not have the supervisory responsibility for the boarding school and should not have closed it.

Lundsberg was closed in the last weeks of August after two teenage boys were left with burns after a hazing ritual involving an iron. The older students responsible for the burns claimed they thought the iron had cooled down by the time they pressed it against the younger students' backs. Nine of the students involved were charged over the incident earlier this week. 
 

The inspectorate acted quickly, closing the school within a week of the news hitting the papers across the country. Two weeks later, however, the decision to close the school was overturned by the administrative court (förvaltningsrätten), which stated that the inspectorate's jurisdiction revolved around what students learned at school, not what they did in their free time.

The school, which is the alma mater of Sweden's Prince Carl Philip and many other members of Swedish high society, has been hit with a series of reports of students being assaulted in hazing rituals.

In May last year, students at the school spoke out after being forced into oral sex and eating manure. Speaking with Sveriges Television (SVT), a former vice principal described the situation at Lundsberg as being akin to something out of Lord of the Flies.

In 2011, a student had their nipples burned with an electric fly swatter.

Founded in 1896, Lundsberg was inspired by British boarding school tradition and currently has an enrolment of around 170 students, around 60 percent of whom are boys.

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In October of last year, the agency told the school that it would impose a 500,000 kronor ($75,000) fine if it didn't act to stamp out the practice of bullying and violence among pupils.

The ruling has no actual impact today on Lundsberg school, which will remain open. But the court ruling does make it clear what the inspectorate has the right to do. 

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