Gardner high school principal on leave amid investigation into altercation with student on bus

GARDNER, MASS. (WHDH) - The principal of an alternative high school in Gardner is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a violent confrontation with students last week that was caught on camera, officials said.

Officers responded to a reported disturbance aboard a school bus parked in front of Gardner Academy for Learning and Technology on Thursday. Cellphone video of the incident appeared to show the principal, Peter McMorrow, clashing with students aboard the bus.

“While I’m sure no one will deny that photos and videos posted on public media accurately depict brief moments of the end of this incident, they also create a narrative that is incomplete, misleading, and one-sided,” Gardner Superintendent Mark Pellegrino said in a statement Monday. “Fortunately, a bus camera recorded audio and video of the entire incident. This video was handed over to the Gardner Police Department and Gardner’s Human Resources Director, who will conduct full investigations of this incident.”

Student Izaiah Quinones said he tried stopping the principal and now may face assault charges.

“I ran over to the principal, and I was yelling at him, ‘Let him go,’ and he still wouldn’t, so I grabbed the principal’s arm and pulled him off,” Quinones said. “The principal at that point raised his hand like he was going to swing at him, so that’s when I stopped and pushed him away.”

Quinones’ mother, Tracy Clarke, said she doesn’t think her son should be charged.

“My son was trying to help a kid that he thought was really being hurt,” she said.

The state’s Department of Children an Families has been notified and McMorrow has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Pellegrino said appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken pending the outcome of the investigation.

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