Parents from the Henderson Upper School have met twice with Dorchester Councillor Frank Baker over the past week in Port Norfolk to discuss ongoing concerns about the school safety, leading Baker to file an information request at the council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Baker said he does not believe Boston Public Schools (BPS) is handling school safety correctly, as well as mental health accommodations, and wants to start by getting official baseline data on incidents. He said parents – especially those with special needs children at the full-inclusion school – are not satisfied.
The Henderson Upper School community was rocked by an alleged attack on the school's principal, Patricia Lampron, by a ninth grader on Nov. 3. Lampron was rushed to the hospital and continues to recover at home.
“We’re looking for some kind of plan so we know that people will be safe there,” Baker said. “I’m not for uniformed police being in the schools, but we need some kind of force in there that can break up fights and keep people safe. What I heard from parents is a need for mental health professionals and a need for trained professionals to break up fights. The reality is we’re seeing violence in our schools and we’re not addressing it…And I don’t think they’ve handled the Patricia Lampron situation well at all.”
At the Nov. 17 meeting of the City Council, Baker made the official request for information, known as a 17F, from Boston Public Schools. He is asking for all police responses and internally handled school safety responses. He said many times he hears quietly about fights at Madison Park or at other schools, but there aren’t any publicly available facts.
“I’m sitting with parents of non-verbal students who can’t tell their parents what happened to them at school,” he said. “My heart goes out to parents whose kids got hurt and can’t verbalize what happened to them at school.”
He said he would like to see the numbers, and then see about getting a licensed school police presence back in the schools to keep order.
“It’s like I asked Superintendent (Brenda Cassellius), if we’re looking for mental health professionals who are cross-trained in karate and dress like Jake from State Farm, then let’s get going on that,” he said. “Let’s do something to make people safe.”
Baker noted the alleged attack comes as BPS has lost more than 2,000 students in its enrollment this year, dipping below 50,000 for the first time in decades.
A BPS spokesperson told the Reporter they are working on an agreement with the Boston Police to get a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed that would allow a pathway for school safety officers to get licensed once again – after losing that option last summer.
“BPS and BPD are working collaboratively on an MOU as a result of the new police reform law,” read a statement from BPS to the Reporter.