northern star

School lock-down after student goes berserk

GOONELLABAH Public School in Lismore was locked down yesterday afternoon when a nine-year-old student attacked a teacher and threatened staff and students with a stick.

The drama unfolded at 2pm when three units from the Lismore police station rushed to the school on Ballina Road.

The child ran from the school when he saw the police cars arrive and was later picked up by police at the corner of Rous and Ballina roads.

By 3pm the boy was at the Lismore police station awaiting the arrival of a parent who could help police determine what sparked the boy's behaviour.

It is believed the boy also threw rocks breaking three windows at the school. Insp Scott Bingham, of Lismore police, said the boy had to be restrained by a teacher whom he had kicked.

"Officers were forced to pursue the child on foot, following him along Ballina Road in the direction of Lismore," he said.

"He was eventually apprehended close to the Rous Road roundabout."

Insp Bingham said the boy would not face any charges because he was under the age of 10.

"By the time the boy arrived at the police station he had calmed down and was in tears as police tried to contact his parents," he said.

Two women whose children attended the school and who lived nearby said they heard the bells signalling a 'lock-down' and walked to the school to find out what had happened.

"I heard the three bells and knew a lock-down was happening, but I got scared when I heard the police sirens," Belinda Smith, of Goonellabah, said. "So I came down to check."

Hayley Kendall said she had not known of a lock-down at the school before and was worried.

"I don't think we would have known about it if we had not heard the bells," she said.

Ms Smith said she knew her children would be excited to tell her the news when they arrived home.

"There was another real lock-down last year when a snake was found in the school grounds, and another when a car crashed into the school fence," she said.

"They practice lock-downs often to keep everyone safe." Goonellabah Public School P&C president Joanne Cooper praised staff and students at the school for their handling of the incident.

"I think the staff did a wonderful job, just going into that mode and protecting the kids," Ms Cooper said.

Ms Cooper said the staff's quick actions in calling the lock-down, and the orderly way the students complied with it, meant none of them witnessed the incident.

"From a parent's point of view, it's what we want to see happening," she said.

"Safety first, then lift the lock-down." Ms Cooper said she believed the school drilled lock-downs more often than the mandated four times a year, and that a lock-down had been practised as recently as early this week.

The lock-down meant the students' last day of term was not marred by the incident.

"They had a beautiful Anzac ceremony this morning," Ms Cooper said.

She said the school had a strong focus on respect and safety, and focused on a different way of showing respect to others each week.

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