BOSTON (WHDH) - The Boston School Committee on Thursday will decide the fate of a “failed school” after a bombshell report detailed years of sex and violence among the student body.
Committee members are slated to vote on whether to close the Mission Hill School in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Last week, Superintendent Brenda Casseillus recommended that the small pilot school be shut down at the end of the school year, citing a “persistent pattern of abuse” that was confirmed in an independent report.
The 195-page report indicated that an investigation into the school was launched last fall when Casseillus contacted the Hinckley Allen law firm. She asked them to look into a number of allegations made about the environment and culture at the school. Investigators say they conducted 65 interviews and sifted through more than 2 million documents pertaining to incidents that dated back in 2014.
Some of the issues uncovered by investigators include the school failing to protect students from threats of sexual misconduct and abuse from other students, the school administration’s failure to properly address bullying, and the routine dismissal of complaints.
The report also detailed other concerns like student-on-student violence, threats, students having weapons, and the failure to deliver a sufficient academic curriculum resulting in low MCAS scores, as well as the failure to deliver special needs services and ensure equity among all students.
Those investigators called the learning institution a “failed school.”
After the report was released, Mayor Michelle Wu said, “I’m devastated to learn about the persistent abuse at the Mission Hill School. While closure is never an easy decision, in this case, it is the right one. During this period of transition for BPS, I am committed to building a leadership team and a culture that brings accountability to every level of the district and ensures no child ever experiences violence in our schools.”
Mission Hill School was founded in Roxbury in 1997. About 200 students in grades K-8 attend.
Some parents told investigators that the school can be like a cult, and a retaliatory and hostile environment was created by some members of the school leadership.
Any staff who were not involved will get assistance getting jobs within other schools in the system.
The remote school committee meeting is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m.
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