Paramedics arrive at St Stephen’s College on the Gold Coast to take seven students who overdosed on drugs to hospital. Picture: Nine News
Paramedics arrive at St Stephen’s College on the Gold Coast to take seven students who overdosed on drugs to hospital. Picture: Nine News

School overdose tragedy comes amid bullying claims

THE Gold Coast private college at the centre of a mass schoolyard drug overdose had the recent tragic death of 17-year-old senior vice-captain and has a bullying culture, a parent has claimed.

Seven students, believed to be all boys, were in hospital, with some still fighting for their lives.

The teenagers collapsed at St Stephen's College on Wednesday after ingesting a substance believed to be the Russian designer drug Phenibut.

It comes just over three weeks since another tragedy at the exclusive St Stephen's College in Upper Coomera, 20km northwest of Surfers Paradise, when students were shocked to learn the college's senior vice-captain, Brittany Hills, had been found dead near a bridge at Paradise Point, 14km from the school.

Police deemed the death of the popular Year 12 student, described in a school Facebook post by the principal Jamie Dorrington as "generous, enthusiastic ... much loved and admired young lady", was not suspicious and drugs were not involved.

Three weeks ago popular St Stephen’s vice-captain Brittany Hills was tragically found dead on the Gold Coast.
Three weeks ago popular St Stephen’s vice-captain Brittany Hills was tragically found dead on the Gold Coast.

Following Wednesday's group drug overdose in the school's lunch hour, a parent of two former St Stephen's pupils claimed on Facebook her son and daughter had been bullied.

St Stephen’s former parent claims her children were bullied at the school.
St Stephen’s former parent claims her children were bullied at the school.

"Our eldest boy was a victim of random, unprovoked punch (for having blonde hair, so we later found out!) and our middle girl (aged just six at the time) was attacked by an adult on school grounds," the parent wrote on Facebook.

"Our girl was extremely/chronically shy, you could hardly get a word out of her, even at home.

"This adult hissed in her face and verbally abused and grabbed her as she was supposed to have said 'something' to another girl, which is nigh on impossible if you knew our daughter.

"I approached the woman and firmly but quietly, told her to never go near my children again and for that WE were ostracised.

"The school ... ignored and glossed over both matters.

"Our children attend another private school on the coast and they are blooming and love their school."

On Wednesday, following the mass schoolyard overdose, Mr Dorrington wrote on the school's Facebook page that media reports of the incident were "an exaggeration".

Students arrive at St Stephen’s College after seven others were taken away for suspected drug overdoses.
Students arrive at St Stephen’s College after seven others were taken away for suspected drug overdoses.

"While this is obviously of concern to me, it does allow me to reassure you that their illness was not due to anything contagious," Mr Dorrington posted.

The remark incited anger in some parents who responded to the post on Wednesday night.

"My son knows all of those boys and by no means is the media exaggerating," wrote one woman.

"It saddens me that the statement made above is focused on how the school did the right thing by the students, but how nothing was mentioned about the thoughts and prayers for the parents and students at this sad time.

"It is not about making the school look good is it about the poor families suffering and having to deal with such a distressing situation.

"(Knowing) some of the boys and parents I cannot imagine what they are going through. "Boys be strong!!"

College headmaster Jamie Dorrington posted this message on Facebook claiming the media coverage of the drug incident was ‘an exaggeration’.
College headmaster Jamie Dorrington posted this message on Facebook claiming the media coverage of the drug incident was ‘an exaggeration’.

Another woman wrote: "And how they call the reporting an exaggeration? Wow! Take ownership of what happened under your own roof!"

St Stephen’s headmaster Jamie Dorrington at the school after seven students were taken to hospital suffering suspected drug overdoses.
St Stephen’s headmaster Jamie Dorrington at the school after seven students were taken to hospital suffering suspected drug overdoses.

An hour after the comments were posted St Stephen's closed down the discussion, saying: "Comments have been turned off out of respect for those involved and their families."

Four of the seven boys ingested the drug are believed to be in a critical condition in hospital.

Want to know more about Kids Helpline? Here's how it works: 

A sheet is used to shield the seven students who were rushed from St Stephen’s school to hospital. Picture: Nine News
A sheet is used to shield the seven students who were rushed from St Stephen’s school to hospital. Picture: Nine News
A St Stephen’s college parent is upset at the headmaster’s Facebook statement about the drug overdose of seven students.
A St Stephen’s college parent is upset at the headmaster’s Facebook statement about the drug overdose of seven students.


Five issues to be debated in Gympie council today

premium_icon Five issues to be debated in Gympie council today

Last council meeting of year has deja vu feeling.

Voyagers in Gympie to shine light on future fuel

premium_icon Voyagers in Gympie to shine light on future fuel

Transcontinental experiment for young solar powered adventurers

Mary's Creek man busted driving with meth in his saliva

premium_icon Mary's Creek man busted driving with meth in his saliva

The man, 26, was stopped for a traffic offence

Local Partners