'Come and pray': Parents claim Sydney public school is 'run like a mosque'

The furious parents of a year seven Sydney student have accused his controversy-riddled high school of being run more like a “mosque” than a public school.

They claimed that their son was bullied over his long hair and when he opted not to join in prayers at Punchbowl Boys' High School.

“The kids come up to my son and ask him ‘come and pray, come and pray’. But we do different things to other families and the school. Why does prayer have to be in school time?” the boy’s mother said.

“Why are they letting kids go on like this about religion? My kid has long hair but some kids told him that it was going against their religion. He goes to school to learn, it’s not a mosque. Religion is for the home, not for the school.

“I’m angry because it’s a public school. Why should my kid go to school feeling scared? He’s only in year seven."

Nineteen Sydney schools have been placed on a radicalisation watchlist just days after Punchbowl Boys' High School principal Chris Griffiths was sacked over claims of runing the school like a mosque. Source: 7 News
The southwest Sydney school. Picture: 7 News

The mother insisted her reason for choosing a public school was to put a greater focus on his education, removing the religious element, however that has been far from the case.

Meanwhile 19 schools in western and south-western Sydney schools have now been identified as “at risk” of radicalising Islamic children.

The revelations come just days after Punchbowl Boys' High School was forced to remove their principal, Chris Griffiths who is accused of refusing to adopt a program aimed at countering violent religious extremism in at-risk students.

The school remains divided over Mr Griffiths’ removal, with some parents calling for him to be reinstated, however the year seven student’s father is not one of them.

“I don’t like the old principal because this is a school, it’s not a mosque,” he told News Corp.

New Punchbowl Boys High principal Robert Patruno. Picture: 7 News
The principal was threatened outside the school. Picture: 7 News

“I am Muslim but my son is coming here to read and write, he’s not coming here for religion, and that’s what it was like. I don’t need problems for my son. The new principal is welcomed and I think he’s perfect.”

Education Department secretary Mark Scott earlier this week insisted that, “We’re not reversing the decision.

“We’ve made the decision. We feel we’ve made the decision that is in the best interests of the school.”

Mr Patruno was encouraged to report the matter to police, but has chosen not to pursue charges.