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HomeBusinessCrofton House accused of failing to stop bullying, homophobia, racism and harassment

Crofton House accused of failing to stop bullying, homophobia, racism and harassment

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Bob Mackin

She was withdrawn from the elite private school for girls on Vancouver’s westside to save her life.

That is according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 16 in B.C. Supreme Court, which alleges the daughter of a westside couple suffered a downward spiral of bullying, homophobia, racism and harassment at the hands of her Crofton House School classmates.

(Crofton House/Facebook)

Natalie and Uwe Boll filed the negligence claim, alleging that a doctor at B.C. Children’s Hospital said early this fall that their 13-year-old daughter should not go back to Crofton House under any circumstances after the girl cut herself, overdosed on Xanax and pondered suicide. theBreaker.news has chosen not to publish the girl’s name.

“The doctor advised that Crofton House was a danger to [the girl’s] life,” said the court filing.

“The culture allowed to cultivate at Crofton House is harmful to students. Crofton House has broken its own code of conduct and failed to implement proper anti-bullying protocols and provide [her] with a safe environment.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court and Crofton House has yet to respond.

The Bolls’ daughter entered Grade 6 at Crofton House in September 2017 as a “bright and happy” 11-year-old who found joy in ballet dancing, reading and singing. After a camping trip early in Grade 7, she was the subject of malicious gossip and rumours and received online messages in January 2019, such as “everyone hates you,” “kill yourself,” and “drink bleach.” She was also among several students caught vaping in the washroom, but the only one suspended, the court filing said.

The bullying continued when her Grade 8 year began, as fellow students called her a “skid” and “lesbian” in the hallways. Another student wanted to settle a dispute over the price and condition of a vaping device by stabbing, macing and robbing her at a McDonald’s after school.

“[She] no longer wished to be at school due to Crofton House’s hostile environment.”

It culminated with the overdose on Xanax pills, which she procured on school grounds.

“A Crofton student had told [her] that the Xanax would ease her pain from being bullied. She was told that the Xanax would help her not care about the Crofton students being mean to her.”

Her mother drove her to the emergency room at the University of B.C. hospital where she was revived with a shot of Narcan, put on suicide watch and transferred to B.C. Children’s Hospital.

The suit alleged the mother spoke with the school’s police liaison who was aware of the bullying, but that the school did not provide him with details. Same with the Xanax incident, “but Crofton House never disclosed that the overdose occurred at school and did not provide details regarding the overdose.”

The lawsuit said it has affected her mother, stepfather and even her younger brother, a five-year-old who “regularly observes his older sister crying and in pain.”

Separately, Natalie Boll has launched an online petition to lobby the federal government to ban the Yolo and Tellonym anonymous messaging apps that she said were used by fellow Crofton House students to harass her daughter. She said that she was bullied herself by school administrators and other parents when she tried to reach out for help.

“We went to the school as soon as it got really bad last year when she was in Grade 7,” Natalie Boll said in an interview. “Over the course of the year, we went to them several times with the bullying and their response to it — through the counsellor, the principal, the different scenarios — was to tell my daughter how she can change to be less of a target. Really, they didn’t hold the girls accountable.”

Boll said tuition was $24,000 plus uniforms per year. She didn’t withdraw her daughter sooner because “when you go to school at Crofton House, getting in is difficult and when you’re in you’re constantly being told you’re so special, you really believe you’ve been given this opportunity to be part of something so exclusive. Giving her a chance that I never got, and then they keep telling you something’s wrong with you.”

Crofton House’s head of school, Ena Harrop, warned parents at the 1898-founded school that there would be a lawsuit and media attention.

Pink Shirt Day at Crofton House (Crofton House/Facebook)

“The school does not agree with the characterization of events as portrayed in the lawsuit and will provide a robust legal defence of the allegations,” said Harrop’s letter to parents. “I know we can rely on the support of the community and request your discretion and patience as we navigate this difficult situation.”

The letter said the school is serious about “maintaining a safe, inclusive and caring community that promotes the well-being of our students” with a code of conduct, policies and procedures.

In October, an elite, westside private school for boys suspended and expelled several students for sharing racist memes on social media. St. George’s believed as many as 15 boys were involved.

The Ministry of Education was planning on a November inspection of the school, which receives provincial subsidies.

The estimated per-full-time-equivalent taxpayer grant per student for private schools in Vancouver for 2019-2010 is $9,009, according to the Ministry of Education website.

St. George’s was also in the news earlier this year after David Sidoo was charged with fraud in the United States for allegedly paying more than $200,000 to have someone write university entrance exams for his two sons, both St. George’s graduates.

Sidoo pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not been set. His lawyers are demanding prosecutors hand over more documents, including some that the lawyers believe might lead to acquittal.

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