Shock and rage as elite Swedish school closes

Students sobbed while others expressed their anger on Wednesday over news that scandal-hit boarding school Lundsbergs would be closed temporarily in the wake of the most recent hazing scandal.

Shock and rage as elite Swedish school closes

“This is horrendous news that we’ve received today, especially for all our students who are completely broken up. You’ve seen how they are crying and the shock that’s spreading among them,” Kajsa von Geijer, a member of the Lundsbergs board, told the TT news agency.

“This is truly a sad day.”

The comments come following news that the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) ruled on Wednesday that the school’s operations will be temporarily shuttered following a hazing incident at the weekend in which two students were burned with an iron.

According to the TT news agency, the mood among the elite boarding school’s roughly 200 students ranged from despair and shock to outright anger. A number of students who left the school on Wednesday were in tears, while others expressed their outrage toward journalists and photographers gathered outside the school.

One Aftonbladet reporter said on Twitter she was called a “whore” by a member of the Lundsbergs student council when she asked for comment on the closure.

Von Geijer told reporters the board will now sit down with the school’s administration and review the decision.

“Our students should feel safe at school, that’s our primary mission and we’re going to do everything to ensure we can continue operations at Lundsbergs,” she said, according to TT.

Counselors were on hand at help the students deal with the news that their school would be closed just days after the autumn term began.

Students will be expected to leave the school during the day on Thursday and seek to enroll in schools in the home municipalities.

The Swedish Teachers Union (Lärarförbundet) welcomed the move to close the school.

“Finally the Schools Inspectorate is flexing its muscle,” union head Eva-Lis Sirén told TT.

“If you get these kind of indications you need to be forceful and show improvement. It’s quite clear that hasn’t happened and that’s something school leadership is ultimately responsible for.”

The closure of Lundsbergs marks only the second time the inspectorate has ordered an immediate shuttering of operations at a school in Sweden, TT reported.

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

Founded in 1896, Lundsbergs was inspired by British boarding school tradition and currently has an enrollment of around 200 students, around 60 percent of which are boys.

TT/The Local/dl

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‘Sweden’s Eton’ probed after new abuse claims

Sweden's Schools Inspectorate has demanded answers from Sweden's most elite boarding school, after one or more pupils were reported to the local police for alleged sex crimes.

'Sweden's Eton' probed after new abuse claims
Lundsbergs School is in Värmland,a three-hour drive west of Stockholm. Photo: Johanr/Wikimedia Commons
Lundsbergs Boarding School counts Sweden’s Prince Carl Phillip and the scions of some the country’s richest families among its alumni, earning it the title “Sweden’s Eton”. 
But the school has repeatedly faced accusations of severe bullying, with the Schools Inspectorate ordering it to be shut down in 2013 following allegations that boys were burned with hot irons by older pupils.
According to “unconfirmed information” published in Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper, the police investigation launched this week relates to a secretly filmed sex tape showing sexual abuse of female pupils. 
Björn Persson, acting head for the Swedish Schools Inspectorate's investigations wing in Gothenburg confirmed to Sweden’s TT newswire that he had been in contact with the school. 
“We have had telephone contact with the headmaster after which we decided to request a written report. We want them to explain what happened and what remedies have been taken,” Persson said.
According to Aftonbladet school staff reported one or more pupils to the police.
“I can confirm that we have received such notification and that it applies to several plaintiffs,” Anders Forsman of the local Värmland police told the newspaper. “It is the school management who made the complaint and it concerns incidents that are further back in time, but have been revealed now. This is not something which has happened this year.”
However, Aftonbladet newspaper reported on Thursday that a pupil had been hit with a belt, although the school’s headmaster Johan Harryson said this had been exaggerated. 
“Two students got into a serious disagreement with one another and we have sent one home for unacceptable verbal attacks. A belt was waved around, and there was contact with the belt at one point, but according to the victim the fright was the main thing.”
Harryson, who was appointed in 2014 to draw a line under the school’s problems, said the turnaround was still a work in progress. 
“We have worked extremely determinedly to make sure such things no longer happen, but we’re not there yet” he told TT. “It simply behoves us to keep working at it.” 
Sweden’s Schools Inspectorate in 2011 roundly condemned the school in a report claiming that younger pupils were regularly humiliated and abused by their seniors, with little attempt from the school's management to intervene.