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Orange school principal calls students with mental health issues 'morons' and 'village idiots'

Date

Tracey Prisk, Michael Koziol

Calare Public School in Orange.

Calare Public School in Orange. Photo: Central Western Daily

A parent says she will withdraw her children from a primary school in Orange after its principal called students with mental health issues "morons" and "village idiots" in a bizarre letter circulated to his staff.

Chris Cundy, head of Calare Public School in Orange, wrote to teachers announcing a mental health and social skills workshop to be held at the school.

In the letter, he appears to have considered it humorous to speculate about students with "two heads" and "webbed feet" requiring special assistance. 

Mr Cundy dubbed the program "Operation Nutcase" and asked teachers to "start identifying students at our school with the following characteristics:

  • suffering from undue anxiety
  • lacking any resilience
  • poor socialising skills
  • 2 heads
  • webbed feet
  • village idiots

"I would like to start Operation Nutcase in week 5 but this might be a bit ambitious," Mr Cundy wrote.

"All victims, er candidates must have a signed form from their parents before we commence. We will have groups of roughly 10. (but in the two headed group there will only be 5)."

The principal said he intended to send a "well scripted letter" to parents asking: "Have you bred a moron? ... You might like to access the services of Calare's new "Operation Nutcase" ... Sign along the dotted line or leave your thumbprint if you can't write."

The letter even targeted staff.

"If you are a bit of a nut yourself you might want to squeeze in a session between the kids and lie on my couch," the principal wrote.

Sally, a parent who asked that her last name not be published, told the Central Western Daily that she was shocked by the letter and would withdraw her children from the school.

"It's not acceptable," she said.

"We get flyers about bullying that say Calare is a caring school but I don't think it cares at all now."

Sally said she had only recently moved to Orange from Sydney and researched schools in the area before selecting Calare and moving into the school's catchment area.

"I don't want my kids to learn to call people names," she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) said Mr Cundy "appreciates that the material was unacceptable and apologises for any offence it caused". 

"He has undertaken not to include any material of this nature in future staff newsletters," the spokesperson said.

The DEC spokesperson said Mr Cundy had not been suspended, but had been formally counselled by the department.

"The department stresses that the material is contrary to the values of public education and the school's track record of support for students with disabilities and other learning needs," the spokesperson said.

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