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BPS officials seek to reassure Henderson School parents after attack on principal

A police SUV passed the Henderson K-12 Inclusion School in Dorchester on Thursday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/file

The principal of the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School in Dorchester was home from the hospital Thursday evening, one day after she was attacked by a 16-year-old female student, as Boston Public Schools officials sought to reassure concerned parents during a virtual meeting to discuss how to keep students safe.

Principal Patricia M. Lampron, who was rendered unconscious for at least 4 minutes after the attack Wednesday, is recovering , Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said during the Zoom meeting, which drew more than 330 participants.

“I just got off the phone about 20 minutes ago with Ms. Lampron. She is doing well,” Cassellius said. “I wanted to let you all know that she is OK, and she wanted me to let you know that, as well.”

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Samuel Podbelski, the school’s director of instruction for grades 7 through 12, said the upper campus will remain closed Friday as teachers continue meeting to plan the return to school and counselors offer guidance to students traumatized by the attack. He provided a website link for parents to sign their children up for counseling.

Students in grades 2 through 6 will return to the school’s upper campus Monday, and 7th graders through seniors will return on Tuesday, he said.

Cassellius said the district has worked with the nearby YMCA and the Boston Centers for Youth & Families to ensure that there will be community centers open for students while the campus remains closed.

The girl who attacked Lampron, whose identity has not been released because she is a minor, faces three charges of juvenile delinquency: assault and battery on a person over age 60 or with a disability resulting in serious bodily injury, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, and assault and battery on a public employee, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.

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Her bail was set at $5,000 and she was ordered to stay away from Lampron and the school and to wear a GPS monitor and remain in home confinement when she was arraigned Thursday in the Dorchester division of Boston Juvenile Court, prosecutors said in a statement.

Cassellius said there had been an earlier threat against Lampron, but it did not appear to be related to Wednesday’s attack. She declined to discuss the threat in detail, saying Lampron had asked that the specifics not be made public.

Cassellius said there will be extra safeguards in place when students return to school, and staff will determine the proper security measures as they meet Friday. She said BPS would send parents more information about the return to school by e-mail on Friday.

Amy Gailunas, director of the Henderson’s lower campus for kindergarten and first grade, said students had returned there Thursday and it was “business as usual.”

“It was a safe and pleasant transition in and an uneventful transition out,” Gailunas said. “It was great to see them all.”

Some issues at the school, Cassellius said, have been caused by “the significant trauma that everyone has experienced due to the pandemic,” and by district-wide staffing shortages also related to the pandemic.

“We have a shortage of substitutes, paraprofessionals, [Applied Behavior Analysis] specialists, food nutrition workers, bus drivers, hall monitors,” Cassellius said, adding that she met earlier in the week with local faith leaders to ask their help in finding appropriate candidates for open positions.

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“This isn’t just Boston Public Schools; it is many, many school districts across the nation who are having difficulty retaining and keeping and securing enough staff,” she said.

During the meeting, parents expressed frustration with a lack of information provided by the School Department and concern for their children’s safety. One mother said there had been three fights in a single day in her daughter’s third-grade classroom, and she is disappointed by the district’s slow response to problems in schools.

About 45 minutes into the hour-long meeting, officials shut down the chat room feature in Zoom because some irate parents were using profane language and attacking one another in the chat.

Kathleen Cawley, who has a child at the Henderson School and works there as a teacher’s aide, said there is “a lack of support and resources district-wide,” but “it is pretty much known out there around the BPS community that the Henderson is not at the top of the list to get what we need for our students. And we have asked.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.