Angry parents on Tuesday night expressed deep concerns for the children who attend English High School following the arrest of the Rev. Shaun O. Harrison Sr., the school’s former “dean of academy” who allegedly tried to murder a 17-year-old student.
“We parents need some assurances,” said one woman, the mother of a senior at the school in Jamaica Plain. “We need a guarantee that no other staff was complicit.”
That parent also expressed skepticism that no school staff noticed anything about Harrison that raised concerns before his arrest.
“I can’t believe there weren’t some rumors going around about inappropriate relationships,” the parent said.
Another parent told school officials: “I’m just concerned about my daughter, and all the children at the school. A lot is at stake here. The children need you and they need your support.”
After the hearing, a parent of four children said that after she learned of the shooting she felt “so grateful” that it wasn’t her son who was shot.
“It wasn’t my son but it was still devastating to me because it happened at my son’s school,” she said.
On Monday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh described Harrison, 55, as appearing to have lived a “double life” that escaped official notice until the alleged “execution-style” shooting on March 3 of a student who was allegedly dealing marijuana for Harrison.
City officials at that time also disclosed that Harrison was set to be fired from his job as a dean at English High for shoving a female student just hours before the shooting occurred.
The incident with the female student would have cost Harrison his job even had he not been arrested and charged with the shooting the next day, school officials said.
John McDonough, interim Boston school superintendent, told the audience of about 60 people at English High that there were no “red flags” raised by Harrison’s conduct before his arrest last week.
“We are all questioning: Why didn’t we see anything before?” he told parents. “But there were no indications.”
McDonough said the school department is investigating whether school protocols should be revamped to possibly catch such a case in the future.
“We want to find out if there are things we should have known, things that did not come to us through our usual protocols that should have come to us,” he said.
The interim superintendent also announced the creation of a hot line to allow students and parents to anonymously pass along concerns they may have about faculty or staff. The hot line, 617-592-2378, is up and running and will be staffed around the clock and on weekends, he said.
“There should never be a student or parent who feels fearful about expressing concerns,” McDonough said.
Boston Police Deputy Superintendent John M. Brown, who also attended the meeting, said evidence in the case was already being presented to a grand jury.
Harrison is charged with armed assault with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The victim, who survived, told police he had been enlisted by Harrison to sell marijuana for several months, authorities said.
Harrison had been reprimanded twice in 2012, including once for pushing a student at Green Academy and again for inappropriate comments toward students. Harrison was punished, but the incidents did not cost him his job, McDonough said.
Harrison joined the Boston public schools in 2010, and became dean of academy at English High School on Jan. 5, after holding various jobs at the now-closed Odyssey High School in South Boston, Boston Green Academy, and Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School.