Swampscott school officials are a disgrace. Check out this Salem News story about a meeting on drug and alcohol abuse that parents of high-school students were forced to attend — the penalty for non-compliance being that their kids would be banned from sports and after-school clubs.

Once the parents got there, they were told they could not speak. According to the News, one parent was informed he could keep his mouth shut or face arrest. The media were barred as well, though school officials were unable to stop News reporter Ethan Forman from attending, since he’s the father of a Swampscott High School student. Yet even that didn’t stop a police officer from reportedly trying to kick him out.

According to today’s News, principal Layne Millington “is hoping to hold a second gathering with parents.” No word on whether Millington plans to organize a posse in order to round up parents to make sure they attend. In an editorial, the News rightly calls the meeting “an exercise in authoritarianism and censorship.”

The Swampscott Reporter, which was unable to get a reporter inside, editorializes that school officials’ thuggish tactics (my phrase, I should be careful to point out) “have given Swampscott a black eye.” (Here’s the story the Reporter posted in advance of the meeting.)

And why did Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett address the parents? Back when district attorneys, rather than the attorney general, enforced the state’s open-meeting law, Blodgett’s office was always responsive about complaints and tough on public officials who violated the law. Once Blodgett saw what was up in Swampscott, he should have refused to participate. Maybe he didn’t realize the media had been banned.

This was an enormous mistake. Swampscott school officials should apologize for their shameful actions.

The stunningly appropriate photo is taken from the Swampscott High School website.