By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: bullying

South Hadley school superintendent returns

It’s not much, but at least South Hadley school superintendent Gus Sayer is back from vacation and defending the school system’s response to the bullying of the late Phoebe Prince. And, unlike school committee chairman Edward Boisselle, Sayer manages to do so without making it worse. Here’s Sayer, in Peter Schworm’s Boston Globe story:

No one turned their back on this. I think we did everything we could. If I thought I had done something wrong, I would resign. But I think we did our best.

We’ll see whether that’s the case. But Sayer is saying the right thing.

Meanwhile, Boisselle, whose sneering dismissal of District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel’s report that teachers and administrators knew Phoebe Prince was being bullied but did nothing has touched off a firestorm, appears to have taken the wise course of action and kept his mouth shut since talking to the Boston Herald on Tuesday.

Sadly, the Springfield Republican reports that no one is running against Boisselle as he seeks re-election on April 5.

The uncaring school officials of South Hadley

I want to call your attention to two strong Boston Herald pieces on the bullying-related charges filed in connection with the suicide of South Hadley High School student Phoebe Prince.

First, Margery Eagan had a terrific column yesterday on the uncaring adults who might have stepped in and stopped the torture — the teachers, administrators and staff members who looked the other way despite knowing exactly what was going on, according to District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel.

“She told her mother, who told the school,” Eagan wrote. “Yet on the day she died, she was attacked in the library right in front of a teacher. She was attacked again in the hallway and again as she walked home.”

Even more disturbing is a story in today’s paper by Laura Crimaldi and Jessica Van Sack reporting that South Hadley School Committee chairman Edward Boisselle was dismissive of Scheibel’s findings when interviewed. In response to Scheibel’s assertion that the bullying directed toward Phoebe Prince was “common knowledge,” Boisselle reportedly said:

I don’t know how that’s factually based. Did they go interview all 700 kids at the school and found out that more than 300 knew about it? Isn’t that the only way you could tell that they factually knew about it?

I wonder how you go about recalling a school committee member in South Hadley?

And what about school superintendent Gus Sayer? He is — are you ready? — on vacation, and has said nothing since Scheibel announced yesterday that her office was indicting nine suspects. Granted, he’s attending a wedding on the West Coast. But it’s not like he’s being asked to comment on flooding in a school basement.

This story by Sandra Constantine, in the Springfield Republican, at least makes it look like assistant superintendent Christine Sweklo is on the case. But, based on the Herald’s reporting, we appear to be dealing with mind-boggling indifference on the part of Boisselle and a less-than-heroic response from Sayer.

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