EMBATTLED high school teacher Michael Seymour, who sparked a race row by calling a Muslim student a “terrorist”, received overwhelming support yester- day as he faced calls for his removal.
Parents, teachers and students rallied behind the Blakehurst High School teacher after The Daily Telegraph revealed that he faces investigation by the Anti-Discrimination Board. Mr Seymour, a legal studies teacher at the southern Sydney school, said he had been instructed by the education department not to comment.
But staff and parents said Mr Seymour, who has been teaching for 23 years, was highly dedicated and widely admired for his work with teenage students.
They said they were “distressed” that his positive contribution to the education of generations of students had been overlooked during the row.
Education chiefs are in a stand-off with the family of Lebanese student Wagih Fares, who have asked them to transfer Mr Seymour to another school.
Racial tension erupted after Mr Seymour, frustrated that 16-year-old Wagih had refused to hand over a magazine he was reading and return to his desk, told the student: “I don’t want to negotiate with a terrorist.”
Outraged by the slur, Wagih punched the classroom wall and door before running from the school pursued by Mr Seymour in his car.
The teacher was reprimanded and ordered to attend a multicultural sensitivity course, although it was found he had not intended to shock, embarrass or humiliate Wagih.
Wagih’s sister Zena has lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board which could result in Wagih being awarded damages of up to $40,000. She said her brother, who is entering his HSC year, did not want to be taught by Mr Seymour.
The education department has refused to move the teacher but has agreed to change Wagih’s timetable for legal studies.
A spokesman said Mr Seymour had immediately realised the “terrorist” comment was not acceptable and apologised to Wagih.
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