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The Boston school committee voted to permanently shut down a grade school over a decade of complaints of sexual abuse and bullying.
The committee voted 5-0 with one abstention on Thursday.
“I believe this decision, as painful as it is, puts our district on a path toward healing,” said school committee chair Jeri Robinson to the Boston Herald.
“The safety, health and well-being of our students must remain our top priority,” she added. “We have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust with our families, and together, we can emerge from this a stronger district.”
Students as young as 5 years old were allegedly victims of bullying and sexual assault by other students at the Mission Hill K-8 School in Jamaica Plain.
A recently released 189-page report by investigators who found disturbing incidents of the abuse at the failed school.
In one case, a student was repeatedly sexually abused by other students in a one-person bathroom, but when officials were alerted about the incident, they did not report it as required by law. Instead, staff initially recommended that bells be placed on the bathroom door or that adults accompany the student victim.
The report said that the actions of the staff led to “troubling patterns of unsafe sexual behavior, bullying and physical violence to continue unabated.”
The report also found that staff members who tried to report the abuse faced retaliation by administrators.
While some parents fought to keep the school open, others supported the closure and said that officials were unresponsive to their demands.
One education activist accused the school superintendent of allowing the abuse to continue even as the investigation was being undertaken by Boston law firm Hinckley Allen.
“As mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect, she and her administration should immediately have intervened,” said Edith Bazile, founder and executive director of Black Advocates for Educational Excellence.
Here’s a local news video about the decision:
Boston School Committee Votes To Shut Down Mission Hill School www.youtube.com