Revere Public School Hosts Community Forum Webinar
Following an alleged sexual assault outside the school and a subsequent student protest where 10 percent of students at Revere High School walked out and staged a protest at town hall, officials from Revere Public School hosted an emergency community webinar on Monday evening to address some concerns and answer questions.
Again, like the statement sent to parents, RHS Director Dr John Perella did not go into too much detail about the incident, but assured the public that it had been reported to the appropriate authorities and that the protocol was followed once the allegations were revealed. However, as rumors and misinformation about the incident began to spread on social media, it sparked an unfortunate storm of backlash and criticism against school staff and administrators, giving felt they weren’t doing enough to solve the problem.
“Unfortunately, not knowing what is going on or what is happening causes increased anxiety and fear for what is going on,” said Dr Perella. “I can share with you as a parent who has kids in school right now, I know what that must be like. As I mentioned earlier, the privacy component (in this case) is really tough. Specific to the charge we communicated, as best we could. I can say that it is a difficult time for our school and that there are a lot of problems and concerns in our community and in our country. So there is a lot going on. Our number one priority is to do as we are doing this evening, to communicate with all of you to share as much information as possible but also to listen to questions. I can recognize that we need to do a better job of quickly communicating with as much information as possible.
RHS social worker Magaret Sullivan said that prior to the alleged incident, many students already faced many socio-emotional stressors in their lives that can be easily triggered by an alleged sexual assault. However, in the recent incident, Sullivan echoed Dr. Perella’s comments that all existing protocols that deal with a very serious problem like sexual assault were followed.
“In the last couple of years we have entered a pandemic and it has exacerbated stressors for students,” she said. “The students are now back to school and they are asked to be in a normal school day. So it was quite a challenge. They have heightened anxiety about the uncertainty in our society and in their world, as well as coping with going back to school and all the other stressors that occur. So when these sexual assault issues arise for students, we have reported them to us social workers, or, if brought up to an administrator or teacher, and social workers are brought in to be all supportive. throughout the process.
Perella said there are also situations where the administrative team and the school board team, especially the school social workers, work in collaboration and in tandem.
“The role of school social workers is to support students and often educate individual families about the needs of students in these situations,” he said. “While the administrator who works with these students at different levels is the one who often takes the lead in the investigation and links some of the different guidelines set by the state to the federal government in terms of how different scenarios are studied. . , how they are connected with various outside agencies, whether it is the Revere Police, the Children’s Families Department, or other agencies with which the school has an ongoing relationship. The assistant classroom principal in a school very often, when situations like this arise, work closely with a school social worker for that student, and we communicate with that person to make sure the student is supported in these situations and somehow ensure that our responses are appropriate to our role and that the school is meeting the needs of students when different situations arise.
Returning to a point Dr Perella made earlier in the webinar, Revere Superintendent Dr Dianne Kelly said administrators are now “decision makers” when it comes to situations such as sexual assault. whether on or outside of school.
“We immediately involve the authorities because they are the experts who know how to work with any victim of sexual assault,” said Dr Kelly. “One thing I will say is that the Revere Police have an excellent group of officers who specialize in this area. And although they are not school resource officers, they have been extremely helpful. When a student reveals that he has been sexually assaulted, he comes in and knows how to conduct forensic investigations and really works with the students to make sure they are safe and protected, especially if it is a pupil under the age of 18.
Ultimately, Dr Perella said, “We need to find a way to stress the need to support confidentiality and sensitivity on many of the topics we talk about, as well as to continually share and engage the community so that she knows what’s going on. at school. And this is a real challenge for all schools and one of the things that we are dedicated to now and throughout the rest of the school year and into the future is to engage more with all of you and to continue to have these conversations and address specific issues of concern that are in the community.