Teacher’s aide, 57, charged with assaulting student

A teacher's aide at the Boston Community Leadership Academy in Hyde Park was arrested Friday afternoon on charges of kicking and inappropriately touching a special needs student, police and school officials said.

Thomas Burke, 57, is facing charges of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (a shod foot) and indecent assault and battery on a special needs person, police said.

A School Department spokesman said Friday's attack appeared to be an isolated incident. The victim's age and gender were not released Friday evening, and details of the alleged assault were not given.

Brett Dickens, the academy headmaster, made an automated call to parents at the school, which serves students from grades nine through 12, informing them of the incident.


"This is not the kind of news I wanted to be sharing on the first night of winter break, but I wanted to make sure you are kept informed of issues you need to know about," Dickens said in the message.

Burke, a 15-year veteran of the Boston school system and a Roslindale resident, has been removed and will not be returning to the school, Dickens said.

Interim School Superintendent John McDonough said students' safety is the system's top priority. "Our job is to protect and support them in every way possible," his statement said.

McDonough also emphasized that school officials would work closely with police as they investigate the alleged attack.

He said the department has contacted the victim's family and other students with whom Burke has had contact.

The Boston Community Leadership Academy is a pilot school intended to prepare students for college and community leadership, its website says. It was awarded a bronze medal for top national high schools from U.S. News & World Report in 2009.

Nicholas Jacques can be reached at nicholas.jacques@