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Boston city councilor pushes for more info on scandal-ridden Mission Hill school

The Mission Hill K-8 School.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty is pushing for more information about the scandal-plagued Mission Hill K-8 School, which the city’s school superintendent wants to shutter after a blistering report found that institutional failures there endangered children for years.

Specifically, Flaherty, an at-large councilor from South Boston, wants officials to provide a breakdown of total sexual assault and harassment incidents at the school that were reported to Boston Public Schools, with student and personnel information redacted as needed.

His request comes a week after officials released a scathing report complied by an outside investigator that showed authorities at the school endangered and failed children for years by overlooking allegations of sexual abuse and bullying and neglecting students with disabilities.

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A 189-page report by law firm Hinckley Allen was sparked by multiple complaints from parents that Mission Hill officials were ignoring their concerns about bullying incidents, and separately, allegations by five families that one student had repeatedly sexually abused their children.

In their report, investigators said they learned of even more allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct at the school, as well as additional examples of officials’ lax response to such reports. In brutal wording, they said there was “pervasive indifference” by administrators to allegations of serious misconduct, and termed the school a “failed” institution. The school, located in Jamaica Plain, serves roughly 200 students.

Flaherty, a former prosecutor, also wants a breakdown of incidents that were not handled in compliance with state law at the school and an explanation as to why the school district retained legal counsel to perform an investigation instead of consulting with Boston police’s crimes against children unit or the Suffolk district attorney’s domestic and sexual assault unit.

Lastly, Flaherty wants a breakdown of legal fees spent related to misconduct incidents at the school, including legal settlements, investigation costs, and personnel costs.

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The councilor made those asks in the form of a 17f request, which is the mechanism through which city councilors can officially demand documents and information from city officials. His request was passed at Wednesday’s city council meeting with no substantial discussion about the Mission Hill school.

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden recently said his office is reviewing the report that focused on the school for “any crimes or incidents where mandatory reporting of sexual assault allegations did or did not occur.”

And Superintendent Brenda Cassellius took the extraordinary step of recommending the school’s closure at the end of the academic year in June. The Boston School Committee is slated to vote on the closure Thursday.

Naomi Martin and Adria Watson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.