Five former students of Brighton Secondary College are suing the state over the school’s alleged failure to protect them from years of anti-Semitic discrimination and abuse. (Joe Armao)

School culture ‘abrasive’ and principal ‘legitimised’ anti-Semitism, court told

Brighton Secondary College principal Richard Minack legitimised anti-Semitism at the school with a speech in which he referred to Jews as subhuman, a court was told on Friday.

Esther Meltzer worked at private Jewish school Leibler Yavneh College as the deputy principal wellbeing officer when Liam Arnold-Levy arrived there after leaving Brighton Secondary College.

Arnold-Levy is one of five Jewish students suing the state and Brighton Secondary College for negligence and failing to protect them from racial discrimination.

In the Federal Court this week, Arnold-Levy claimed that during his time at Brighton Secondary College he was subject to daily anti-Semitic verbal, physical and emotional abuse and left the school after an alleged knife attack in the school toilets.

Meltzer told the court on Friday that she was “appalled” by an assembly speech she saw of Minack, in which he referred to Jews as “subhuman” and elevated the role a relative of his played in the German military.

“He would have just legitimised [anti-Semitism] for any student who had negative feelings for Jews,” she told the court.

Meltzer told the court she would counsel Arnold-Levy a few times a week and described him as being “very insecure”, “very anxious” and “a shell of himself”.

She said he had gaps in his learning due to his experience at the school and it was hard for him to move past the “relentless victimisation”.

Read the article by Nicole Precel in The Age.