DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

June 12, 2014

Apology needed, but change needed

Pinkerton Academy has developed a good reputation over the course of the past 200 years. It’s often praised for its academics, its sports teams, its spirit of community service and more.

One area where the school has fallen short is in open communication with its community. That community includes students, parents, taxpayers.

Unfortunately, two recent occasions when school officials kept their mouths closed too tightly and for too long both involved potential risks to student safety.

Last week, this newspaper and others reported the arrest of a Pinkerton teacher on charges of assaulting a 15-year-old student — on campus at the end of the school day.

The teacher was first placed on administrative leave, then terminated several days later. That was correct.

But that’s about all the school did correctly.

Parents, some students and many community members learned of the simple assault charges and the circumstances from which those charges arose from the news media. The school administration was silent.

The school’s official spokesman said the school was “in the process” of notifying community members when the news broke.

That process took too long, a day after news reports had outlined the charges.

In a letter emailed to parents, the school explained the basics of the situation and explained its delayed notification by saying officials had to do their own investigation and work with police.

But the police department had issued its own press release a day earlier, so surely any notice by the school wouldn’t have jeopardized a police investigation.

Outrage was fast and furious.

In that emailed letter, Headmaster Mary Anderson invited anyone with questions to call or email her personally. That was tough to accomplish, by all accounts. Perhaps it was the sheer volume of responses or perhaps it was second thoughts on Anderson’s part.

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