Elite school to reopen after court ruling

Scandal-hit Swedish boarding school Lundsberg, the alma mater of Prince Carl Philip, will reopen after it was forced to close last week when two students were burned with an iron in a hazing ritual.

Elite school to reopen after court ruling

The administrative court (förvaltningsrätten) on Friday overruled a decision taken by the Sweden’s School Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) to shutter the school following revelations that two boys, aged 14 and 15, were burned by other students with an iron.

Nine students were suspected for their involvement in the assault and were asked to leave the school soon after.

The inspectorate decided that the school should be temporarily shut down, meaning 200 students were left to find alternative learning arrangements.

“It is not at all compatible with how a school should function. And we can see that the measures taken have not in any way been enough,” Ann-Marie Begler, General Director of the Schools Inspectorate, told the TT news agency at the time.

In delivering its ruling on Friday, the court said the school watchdog had failed to prove that students’ safety was at risk.

“The investigation doesn’t support that the education or the school environment poses a risk for the safety of the students,” the court ruled.

The school is set to resume classes on Monday, a decision welcomed by the Lundsberg board.

“First and foremost I’m happy for the students. It’s been a difficult for them to get places at other schools in their home municipalities,” Sofia Orre, a member of the school’s board, told the TT news agency.

She admitted, however, that it’s possible not all students will return to Lundsberg on Monday.

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

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

TT/The Local/og

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Students on trial for elite school hazing assault

Nine students and one employee from prestigious Swedish boarding school Lundsberg will face court on Wednesday for their involvement in a hazing ritual in which a 14-year-old boy was burned with an iron.

Students on trial for elite school hazing assault
The burns sustained by one of the students. Photo: Polisen

Prosecutors charged all nine students with making illegal threats, with two charged additionally with causing bodily harm (vållande till kroppsskada).

The staff member, who approved the students' plan to scare the boy with the iron, faces charges of being an accessory to making illegal threats, with an alternative charge of being an accessory to assault.

The school, which is the alma mater of Prince Carl Philip, was forced to close its doors temporarily following the hazing scandal, which saw one 14-year-old boy taken to hospital due to the severity of his burns.

During the incident, the victims were told to lie on the floor and were made to believe they were about to be burnt with a hot iron. Some of them were then burned on their backs after one of the attackers said "Now this is going to hurt". The students responsible claimed they didn't intend to burn their fellow students, but they did not think to check if the iron was still warm after it had been unplugged.

Speaking with Sveriges Television (SVT) on Wednesday morning ahead of the opening of the trial, Education Minister Jan Björklund said he believed the boarding school should be responsible for the well-being of students outside the classroom.

"If you send your kids to boarding school, you expect the school's leadership to also be responsible for what happens during free time," Björklund told SVT.

In December, the Administrative Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court ruling that Sweden's School Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) was wrong to temporarily close Lundsberg after the scandal emerged, concluding that the agency lacked supervisory authority to take action for matters that occurred outside the classroom. The hazing incident took place in the dorms.

The education minister also commented on the government inquiry into reforms at Sweden's three national boarding schools, Lundsberg, Sigtuna, and Grenna.

"Those three schools have had special standing, perks that go way back. They're going to be like regular free schools in the future," he said.

The inquiry proposes that the schools no longer be able to accept tuition for lessons, although students would still pay for room and board.