Rebecca Urban and Jennine Khalik, The Australian
Canterbury Boys High School in southwest Sydney was identified as a prime candidate for the introduction of a state government-funded program to counter violent extremism, after several students were identified as being at high risk of radicalisation.
The school — whose 2013 dux, Samir Atwani, fled to Syria to join Islamic State shortly after graduating — was recently identified by the Department of Education alongside Punchbowl Boys High School as being in need of specialist support to ensure that further students did not succumb to extremist behaviour, The Australian has learned.
While Punchbowl resisted the department’s anti-extremism program, which ultimately cost its principal and a deputy their jobs, Canterbury Boys High is understood to have implemented the program last year.
The Education Department yesterday declined to identify any schools participating in the program, citing privacy and operational reasons. However, several parents of Canterbury students have confirmed that they had recently received letters from the school about the program and an upcoming information session.
Punchbowl Boys High principal Chris Griffiths and deputy Joumana Dennaoui were removed from their roles last Thursday amid a raft of claims, ranging from the mistreatment of female teachers to concerns that staff had been assaulted and threatened by students claiming to be terrorist sympathisers.