TEWKSBURY, MASS. (WHDH) - Teachers in Tewksbury voiced concerns to the town’s school committee on Wednesday after a teacher said he was criticized by a school committee member for reporting possible hazing.
Though the district found there was no hazing involved, the response of some school administrators to the situation caused controversy.
“Are we supposed to protect and be a voice for our students or not?” Emily Niles, a teacher, said to the school committee during a committee meeting. “Because if we do, do we need to be afraid that we will be made examples of in a Facebook post that unleashes you and random townspeople making nasty comments?”
Teachers rallied outside Tewksbury High School before moving into the school’s auditorium Wednesday, where dozens backed high school teacher Peter Molloy.
Molloy said he emailed school administrators in December saying he was worried the school’s boys hockey team’s mohawk haircuts could be considered hazing under state law.
He said he spoke up as a mandated reporter, saying the communication was meant to be private. But Molloy said he was outed by a school committee member on Facebook.
“His initial post read, and I quote, ‘It’s just a haircut. I’m sorry if you’ve never been part of something special,’” Molloy said of the Facebook post. “His post generated the following comments – ‘Nothing better to do. So sad. Someone better get a life.’ Another comment read, ‘Shouldn’t be allowed to teach. Shouldn’t be allowed to coach.'”
Tewksbury’s schools superintendent addressed the situation and the social media post on Wednesday.
“It’s been my experience, and I’ve seen all too often, that when children and adults alike react abruptly and emotionally on social media,rarely does it shed any useful light on the situation,” Superintendent Brenda Theriault-Regan said.
Teachers said this situation has them calling into question the support they receive from the school committee.
The committee chair encouraged teachers to continue to come forward if they feel something is wrong.
“Any person, adult or child, who comes forward in this district with a concern of safety and welfare of students is expected to be treated with respect,” Chair Bridget Garabedian said.
Molloy and fellow Tewksbury educators, meanwhile, are asking for an apology.
“I can’t determine how they respond,” Molloy told 7NEWS. “All I know is I will continue to do the right thing.
Tewksbury’s superintendent and school committee declined to comment further after teachers left Wednesday’s meeting.
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