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Student stabbing 'out of character' for school

A local politician whose children went to Karabar High has defended the school’s reputation after a stabbing on Tuesday, attributing some of the reaction to “Queanbeyan-bashing”.

There was a backlash against the school on social media after the incident. The parent of one student told Fairfax Media she would consider pulling her daughter out of the school.

Former local member and current NSW upper house Labor politician Steve Whan - whose wife, Cherie, is president of the Parents and Citizens’ Association - defended the school on his Facebook page on Tuesday night. He told Fairfax Media on Wednesday the incident was “out of character” for the school and “a shock to everyone”.

He urged parents thinking about removing their child from the school to reconsider.

“I can understand why someone who has just started at the school would feel that that was pretty upsetting,” Mr Whan said.

“I think all the parents who’ve experienced the school and particularly the teachers would say to those people this is not a reflection of what the school is like. It’s a terrific school and this is an isolated one-off.”


Mrs Whan, in her role as president of the P & C, said the school has a “great reputation” and is full to capacity, with a waiting list for new enrolments.

But she said it was understandable that parents of any new students would be concerned.

“This is week two of term one that their child has been at the school, and they must be going through such a hard time and we acknowledge that,” Mrs Whan said.

“I’d really like to encourage them to talk to any of the teaching executive … or long-term parents, like myself.”

The school of more than 1000 students is the only partially-selective school in the area, and, according to the MySchool website, achieves results close to the national average. In the 2012 NSW Higher School Certificate five Karabar students were named on the top achievers list for coming in the top 20 students in the state in individual units.

Karabar’s list of notable alumni includes sportsmen Brad Haddin, Mark Webber and Terry Campese.

The Whans' son and daughter attended the high school, his daughter finishing just over a year ago.

Mr Whan said he was aware of some of the negative backlash on social media following the lunch time stabbing, but said it wasn’t warranted.

“I think a lot of what we see some people say is good old Queanbeyan bashing I think which is unfortunately all too common from people, but it’s not justified,” Mr Whan said.

“All the feedback I’ve been getting from kids on Facebook and from the school community and parents and things, is that they feel the teachers handled it really well, and it’s good to see the police saying that as well.”

Local NSW member John Barilaro told Fairfax that the safety of students was paramount, and the response to the incident from police, school staff and department had been commendable.

"This is a distressing and unsettling incident at the start of a new school year for the entire school community,” he said.

“Karabar High School is a fantastic school in my electorate and its reputation should not be unfairly judged over this isolated incident.”

The Karabar High principal Paul Kells said through a spokesman he was very appreciative of how quickly the P & C and others had supported the school and of how well the students were coping.

Counselling and support is available for students and staff.