NASHUA — Without a public explanation, the principal and vice-principal at Elm Street Middle School have been placed on administrative leave.
Superintendent Jahmal Mosley issued a written announcement to Elm Street employees on Wednesday evening stating that effective immediately, Principal Ian Atwell and Vice-Principal Kelly Holmes are now on administrative leave.
“Because this is a personnel matter, Dr. Mosley will not be making any further comment,” said the statement.
The announcement comes just days after Mosley said the district is investigating a separate situation at Fairgrounds Middle School where videos of a student being assaulted by other students on two separate occasions were posted on social media sites by the victim’s father.
“No, they are not related,” Heather Raymond, president of the Board of Education, said of the alleged student assaults at Fairgrounds Middle School and the administrative issues at Elm Street Middle School.
According to Mosley, the principal and vice-principal position at Elm Street Middle School are temporarily being filled by Lesa McQuesten and Jason Lonergan, respectively.
McQuesten is the assistant principal at Nashua High School South, and Lonergan is the assistant principal at Nashua High School North.
“People tend to assume everything negative when there is a leave situation. I just want to urge people not to jump to conclusions, which is hard,” said Raymond.
She said administrators are doing what they need to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
“I have confidence in Dr. Mosley’s decision on this particular matter. I support him and I think we all need to have a little patience,” Raymond said on Thursday. “When we have a personnel issue, there really is not a lot to talk about. People have the right to privacy when it comes to personnel issues. I don’t think there is any cause for the public to be concerned.”
She praised the interim principal and vice-principal, saying McQuesten and Lonergan will work to ensure that Elm Street students and staff are provided with the support they need.
Regarding both situations at the two middle schools, Raymond said it is important to respect people’s privacy, let the professionals do their jobs and limit speculation.
This week, a seventh-grade girl who was allegedly assaulted by classmates on two separate occasions at Fairgrounds Elementary School has been diagnosed with a concussion and a possible broken rib, according to her father, Chad LaCrosse.
LaCrosse posted videos of the attacks on social media after failing to receive answers from the school district, he said. Since then, LaCrosse was granted two restraining orders prohibiting the two alleged female attackers from coming within a close distance to his daughter.
“The police are investigating,” said Raymond, who stressed that all of the children involved are minors and have a right to privacy.
Next week, the Board of Education is set to review a proposed emergency policy change to the school district’s student behavior standards. Doris Hohensee, board member, is recommending amendments to the current policy.
Those changes include, in part, that “indisputable physical violence or assault by a student directed against another student or staff member, with corroborating evidence such as but not limited to video recordings … All students engaging in (these) Class IA offenses, other than the victim of the violence, shall be immediately removed from school until the situation is resolved.”