PEABODY — The district is looking into a parent’s concerns about an incident at a Higgins Middle School dance involving an administrator and two students.
The incident, caught on camera and posted on social media, shows the administrator physically removing two students from a crowded group of students that had formed around them.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Josh Vadala said in a statement that his office is “aware of and (is) reviewing an incident in which an administrator separated two students from one another and removed them from an event at the Higgins Middle School last Friday (March 25).”
Vadala said a preliminary review indicated that the administrator physically separated the students only after being informed that the students were involved in a “physical altercation.
“The administrator grabbed both after working his way through a large crowd of students that had encircled the two students,” said Vadala. “No administrator or educator ever wants to physically separate two students, but our original indication is that the administrator involved in this incident felt it was the most prudent approach in the moment.”
The mother of one of the students involved, Erin Dailey, and her 12-year-old son, who was one of the two boys involved in the incident, appeared on WCVB Channel 5 News Thursday to tell their side of the story, denying there was a fight. Dailey defended the actions of her son, saying that he was only pointing at the other student to ask that student to dance.
“No child ever deserves to ever be grabbed, touched, handled in that manner, ever,” Dailey said to the reporter. “It was very hard to watch as a mom. He was dragged away outside and was accused of being in a fistfight. My son was very, very upset, saying, ‘Mom, I was not in a fight.’
“It’s about the safety of our children. We send our kids to you five days a week, eight hours a day. Do your job,” she said, adding that she is scheduled to meet with Vadala on Friday.
Many comments posted on Pride in Peabody’s Facebook page defended the actions of the administrator while taking issue with the motives of the mother in going public on television.
“This admin did the right thing just in case anything got out of hand,” Stephanie Peters Dowling said. “If he didn’t step in and bring them out of that situation something would have probably happened. Damned if (you) do, damned if you don’t.”
“Not sure if I can believe he was not fighting….I think the teacher was simply doing his job!!!” Keley Vieira posted.
“There was no way that kid was calling him over to dance,” said Sean Rock. “There wouldn’t have been 40 kids with their cell phones out at that moment trying to videotape either. Kids are entitled these days and it is sad. If that was my kid trying to fight at a middle school dance I would want the administrator to do EXACTLY that.”
“The teachers were doing their job from the video I am seeing,” said Heather Muse Csongor. “Not sure what the big deal was. There has been a lot of stuff that has been worse at Higgins over the years. I can’t believe his mother would make this into a big issue. What has the world come to.”
“Oh please! The teacher was doing his damn job,” said Aimee Lynne. “Her pulling in the news makes me think she just wants money.”
Vadala confirmed Saturday that the department will be meeting with the family of one of the students “who expressed concern.
“We are exploring opportunities to hold restorative conferences that are inclusive of all involved,” said Vadala, who added the department is also conducting an internal review of the incident.
“Doing so will give us a deeper understanding of the incident, which will better enable us to determine the appropriate follow-up and next steps,” Vadala said.