Victorian education officials are investigating after primary school children saw teachers and older students with an inflatable sex doll during a regional school’s muck-up day celebrations.
- Primary school students at the Prep–12 school saw the doll in the playground during the lunch break
- At least one teacher was witnessed riding the doll down a playground slide
- An acting principal has been appointed while the existing principal is on leave
The Department of Education and Training has appointed an external law firm to investigate the end-of-year celebrations for year 12 students at Mallacoota College, about 600 kilometres east of Melbourne.
The town became known for the apocalyptic fire images during last summer’s bushfire season, which were broadcast across the world. Many town residents are still struggling to recover.
At the school’s muck-up day on November 6, it is alleged a student brought the female sex doll to the school.
The school has primary and secondary students aged from five to 18 years.
Teachers participated in activities with doll
The ABC understands several teachers, including the principal, were seen by many primary school students as young as five, with the doll during the school’s 55-minute lunch break.
Sources said the blow-up female doll had visible genitals and was tied to a pole during lunch break and had water and ice thrown on it.
The sources said students and at least one teacher rode on top of the sex doll down a children’s slide, and a female name was given to the doll.
A picture of school principal Tim Cashmore close to the doll, and with young primary school children nearby, was posted on social media but was later taken down.
A parent who did not want to be named told the ABC their young child had described the naked female doll to them in detail, saying the doll had “a lot of holes and lipstick”.
The parent said they were, “aghast and disgusted by the use of the sex doll in front of young children”.
Another parent said their primary school child told a teacher on the day that they needed to put clothes on the doll before the prep students saw it.
Department launches investigation
Students’ parents were alerted to the muck-up day’s activities five days later when a letter, signed by both Mr Cashmore and the school council president Dani Morris, was sent out.
It is understood the department received at least 15 complaints from unhappy parents demanding answers.
On Monday, staff were told by senior departmental staff an inquiry was being held into the matter by a law firm and that Mr Cashmore was taking leave.
External acting principal David Mowbray has been appointed to take over, which the department says, “has the backing of the school’s leadership team and assistant principal”.
‘What the hell is going on at the school?’
School council member and parent Cate Tregellas said despite the letter to parents being co-signed by the council president, she knew nothing about it.
“I got a lot of texts, emails and phone calls from parents saying, ‘What the hell is going on at the school?'” she said.
“And I said, ‘Well, actually we don’t know.'”
The letter, seen by the ABC, stated that an “unknown student brought an inappropriate item to school” and this was “totally unacceptable”.
“We have spoken to the whole year 12 about this incident to ensure they understand why it is wrong,” the letter said.
Ms Tregellas said teachers and students told her they were appalled at the behaviour of the teachers who failed to stop students handling the doll and participated in the activities.
“Many of the students felt revolted and just didn’t know where to look,” she said.
Female students ‘demeaned’ by incident
Ms Tregellas says she does not blame the year 12 students, who are in the middle of final exams, and have been through a tough year after the bushfires destroyed more than 100 houses in the small town.
But she wants to know the teachers’ role in the incident.
“It wasn’t fun at all, especially for a lot of our female students.
“They just felt very demeaned by it.”
She wants more transparency around the department’s investigation and for the results to be publicly released.
Mr Cashmore declined to comment, but confirmed he was on leave.
A department spokesman confirmed it was making inquiries into the “circumstances around these events and the actions taken on the day”.
The spokesperson said the school taught Respectful Relationships sessions, a program teaching respect and equality and that it was supporting students to “ensure this incident does not distract from the hard work still to be done”.
It also said it was reaching out to students to make sure they had the support they needed.