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Middle school investigates bullying that targeted redheads

Officials at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School are investigating a bullying incident last Friday in which a group of students sought out and kicked redheads in corridors and stairwells between classes.

The school said that the students were imitating an episode of the popular TV cartoon series “South Park” in which students hold a Kick a Ginger day.

“We are outraged by the behavior and poor decisions made by a group of students and we are concerned for both the victims and the aggressors for the impact that this will have on them. And we are incredibly disappointed,” a statement posted on the school website Wednesday read. “At the Melrose Public Schools we take the safety of all our students very seriously.”

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According to the statement, Jaime Parsons, the assistant principal, made a public announcement at 11:30 a.m. Friday, asking the students to stop. He also told the students that the behavior could be considered assault.

Parsons apologized on behalf of those who had been kicked and called parents whose students had been hurt. He also sent a message to the middle school’s families with information about the incident, the school said.

As part of the ongoing investigation, administrators have reviewed surveillance tapes at the school and spoken to students and their families about the incident. They have also spoken to Melrose Police Chief Michael L. Lyle about taking “appropriate action” if any child is found to have participated in an assault, according to the statement.

“This has been a very difficult few days for our school community,” the statement said. “We appreciate the support of our community as we continue to build an inclusive environment in which students can thrive.”


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com.