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Elite school's court win marred by drunken pupils

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Elite school's court win marred by drunken pupils
10:32 CEST+02:00
Scandal-hit Swedish boarding school Lundsberg was back in the headlines this week when a gang drunken pupils were thrown out of a performance of Hamlet just hours after a court ruled the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinpektionen) was wrong to shutter the school over a violent hazing incident.

The agency ordered the school closed in August following a series of hazing incidents, the latest of which left a pupil seeking hospital treatment for burns after having been scolded with an iron.

The court has now ruled that the agency was wrong to shutter the school as the incidents occurred in the boarding houses, which it said are not to be considered educational facilities and lie therefore outside of the agency's remit.

Education Minister Jan Björklund responded to the court ruling by stating that he would be prepared to push for a change in legislation.

"The Schools Inspectorate's powers should also be extended to examine security in a boarding school," he said. "To change the law always takes at least a year, but I think we should do it as soon as possible."

The Inspectorate is meanwhile considering an appeal of the ruling.

"It is our firm belief is that the judgement is wrong. It would be a very strange situation if the responsible authority lacks responsibility for what happens at the school," said Director-General Ann-Marie Begler.

The court ruling was however hailed as a relief at the school which is located in rural Värmland in central Sweden.

"That's great, so nice for all the youngsters and employees," said Lundberg Foundation chairwoman Helena L'Estrade.

The relief for the school was short-lived however as reports emerged later in the day that several pupils had been ejected from a theatre in Linköping for being drunk, with one pupil apparently throwing up during the performance of Hamlet.

While the vomit was reportedly cleaned up by the Lundberg party, the theatre plans to contact the school over the incident, according to a report in the local Corren daily.

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 in recent years of students being assaulted in hazing rituals.

In May 2012, 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 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 the British boarding school tradition and currently has an enrolment of around 170 students, around 60 percent of whom are boys.

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.

Following the incident with the scalding iron at the beginning of the autumn term an inquiry was initiated which led to the temporary closure of the school. The principal was later sacked and the school's board resigned.

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