BOSTON (WHDH) - Parents said they were shocked by report describing sex, violence and a “persistent pattern of abuse” at a Boston school, but were unsure if it should be closed as the school superintendent recommends.

Dr. Brenda Casseillus said the Mission Hill School, which has been open since 2012, shut be shut down at the end of this school year following the release of the 195-page report.

“Based on the persistent pattern of abuse confirmed in this independent report, the only viable option is to close the school and support students in their transition to other schools in the district,” a spokesperson for the district wrote Wednesday evening.
The page report says the investigation into the school was opened last fall when Casseillus contacted the law firm, Hinckley Allen. She asked them to look into a number of allegations made about the environment and culture at the pilot school, which was founded in Roxbury in 1997 and has about 200 students in grades K-8. Investigators say they conducted 65 interviews and sifted through more than 2 million documents pertaining to incidents that dated back in 2014 and determined, among other problems:

The school failed to protect students from threats of sexual misconduct and abuse from other students.

The school failed to properly address bullying.

Some personnel routinely dismissed complaints.

The report details other safety concerns like student-on-student violence, threats and even students having weapons. In addition – the report found the school failed to deliver a sufficient academic curriculum — which was reflected in a number of ways inlcuding low MCAS scores. The report also says the school failed to deliver special needs services and ensure equity among all students, regardless of their gender or race and calls Mission Hill “a failed school.”

“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,” said Mayor Michelle Wu.

Some of their parents told investigators the school can be like a cult and a retaliatory and hostile environment was created by some members of the school leadership.
The district said that any staff members who were involved in any of the cases outlined in the report, are either no longer in the BPS system or have been placed on leave pending the outcome of further investigations.

Many parents dropping students off at Mission Hill on Thursday said they were shocked by the report.

“I didn’t know about it, and I think parents should be advised and told about what’s going on in the school. I think it’s a big situation on their end,” said Glory Acevedo, who is the parent of a fifth grader.

But Acevedo said she wasn’t sure the entire school should be shut down.

“They should’ve been taken action a long time ago … I think it’s not the school, but the people that work for the school,” Acevedo said. “I don’t think closing the school was the solution.”

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