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Superintendent 'heartsick' after Salem fights, will address issue in a letter to families

Union Leader Correspondent

October 18. 2017 9:16PM

SALEM — The superintendent of Salem’s school district said Wednesday he was “heartsick” when he saw the smartphone video of two recent fights at the high school.

Michael W. Delahanty would not go into detail about the first fight, but said it was not, as reported, about bullying. The two fights are related; the second was sparked over social media, he said.

“The images are absolutely alarming, there’s no question,” Delahanty said. “I was heartsick when I saw this and the aftermath of all the responses that would suggest or assert that kids are out of control or the school is out of control,” he said.

The videos appeared briefly on Youtube, but have since been deleted. The recordings depicted multiple female students in aggressive physical altercations, predominately in the school hallways.

At least one student has been suspended, according to Wayne DeLuca, the father of the 15-year-old suspended student.

DeLuca said on Facebook the administration has a policy to “punish the victims who are being attacked or assaulted equally with the aggressor or bully and refusing to take into account each individual’s past history in deciding what type of punishment is doled out.”

Delahanty said he expects a statement about the fights to go out to parents before the end of the week.

“We have, like most high schools have, a pretty good track record of containing or avoiding these type of incidents that occurred recently,” Delahanty said. “Hundreds of people are in the school day-in and day-out, along with the 1,200 kids and the 150 faculty members. I would know if it’s an unsafe and uncontrollable environment. But again, to express that might appear overly defensive.”

Delahanty said there is an overlap between social media and what happens at the school, noting the district is made aware of potential problems from students; it is not uncommon for them to inform a staff member about something online.

“There is a process we have in place, and we have individuals — caring individuals — that will absolutely follow up and potentially intervene,” Delahanty said.

“We can’t police all of it, it has to be something that is brought to our attention,” he added. “Parents shouldn’t worry that this characterization of the school as a result of these two fights is an illustration of what our school is like, anymore than it is like in other high schools.”

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