Catholic school opens gates to Hell boy

MELBOURNE, Australia – The Hell family says it may tell a Catholic school in Australia where to go after it objected to enrolling their son because of his name.

Officials said the boy had been offered a place at the St. Peter the Apostle school in the southern city of Melbourne after discussions between the principal, the parish priest and the family over his name.

But Alex Hell said he would rather send 5-year-old Max elsewhere because the school balked at taking the boy over his family name.

“We are the victims of our name,” Hell said Monday.

Hell said he and his wife approached St. Peter the Apostle school about enrolling Max because the boy was being bullied at his current school because of his name, the Herald Sun newspaper reported on its Web site.

The Catholic school supported a plan to enroll Max using his mother’s maiden name, Wembridge, but then withdrew its invitation when the parents changed their minds about the name, Hell said. The school backed down and offered Max a place only when Hell took the issue to the media, he said.

“The school has turned around and said Max can go there, but why would you want to go there after being victimized?” Hell said.

The family was considering moving to his wife’s hometown to find a different school, he said.

Director of Catholic Education in Victoria state, Stephen Elder, said using the boy’s mother’s name was the parents’ idea to “assist the child in the transition of schools.”

“After discussions between the parish priest and principal, St. Peter the Apostle School has made an offer of enrollment to the student,” Elder said in a statement. “The school is working with the family in the best interests of the child.”

Hell said he had Austrian heritage and that the name means “bright.”

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This post was last updated: Monday, July 9, 2007 at 4:05 PM, Central European Time (CET)