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Rally puts media focus on Dorchester school where principal was assaulted

November 29, 2021

On behalf of its members, Local 888 demands a comprehensive safety plan for the Boston Public Schools after a principal is assaulted.

An array of signs saying “Restore School Safety” was the backdrop to a rally and media event organized by Local 888 at the Boston public school where the principal was attacked and knocked unconscious.
“We’re here to bring worker, parent and student concerns to the forefront,” said Tom McKeever, president of SEIU Local 888. “We want the schools superintendent to come up with a comprehensive action plan,”
Trouble — which had been brewing at the Henderson Inclusion School — broke out on Nov. 3 when the principal, Patricia Lampron, was attacked and sent to the hospital. Lampron was released from the hospital the next day.
In the wake of the attack, WCVB-TV Channel 5 reported that a 16-year-old girl is facing one count of assault and battery on a victim over the age of 60; one count of assault causing serious bodily injury and two counts of assault and battery on a public employee.
“This altercation was traumatic for the parents, teachers and students,” said Jennifer McCarthy, a mother of a 10-year-old son attending the Dorchester school. She told The Spark that her child, a special education student, had a great experience while attending the Henderson School’s annex, which is for pupils through first grade. “It was all unicorns and rainbows there.”
Lampron had assured the mother that her son would be safe in the main school, which runs through high school. There would be separate entrances for the little kids.
“I can’t say that I feel safe anymore,” McCarthy said. She added that some of the younger children were there when the attack occurred, because it was at dismissal time.
In the run-up to the violent incident, a Henderson administrator, a Local 888 member, had been threatened by the same student. The administrator is now on medical leave.
“The assault on the principal has heightened staff and parental fears over safety and has upset and shocked students as well,” said McKeever. “More must be done to address the violence that is prevalent in the Boston schools.”
He added: “We are asking school Superintendent Brenda Cassellius to hear our calls for increased safety in the schools and to act on them.” Local 888’s members include 325 Boston school administration and support staff, such as school secretaries.
Joe McEachern, whose wife is a Local 888 member who works at the school, said that the problem with the accused attacker had been going on since the start of the school year. The student had reportedly been barred from school grounds.
An atmosphere of safety is an essential factor in running a school, said City Councilor-Elect Erin Murphy, a former Henderson teacher. “Without it, teachers are not able to teach and students are unable to learn”
Other city councilors who spoke at the rally included Frank Baker, District 3, which includes the school; Michael Flaherty, at-large; Ed Flynn, District 2; and former mayoral candidate, Annissa Essaibi George, at-large.
Local 888 has been campaigning for the improvement of working conditions in the Boston Public Schools. The rally raised the issue of the maintenance of equipment, such as cameras and metal detectors, which have not been in use at the Henderson; a Boston Herald report focused on those issues.
Senior staff organizer Neal O’Brien pointed to the union raising the issue of sexual harassment and other alleged misconduct at the Condon School in South Boston. Local 888 distributed fliers at the school and O’Brien sent an email to Superintendent Cassellius on the situation there.