Madison Park students walk out of class in protest
More than 100 students walked out of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School Friday morning to protest the removal of the school’s executive director, chanting, “We want answers.”
The students marched from the Roxbury school on Malcolm X Boulevard to School Department headquarters in Dudley Square, four days after school officials placed Kevin McCaskill on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Some carried signs that said, for example, “We want our father figure back.” They chanted that slogan, too.
School officials have not revealed reasons for the investigation, causing frustration among students, who say he is among their biggest supporters.
“For the last two years, he’s been doing an amazing job for the school,” said Ashley Meneide, 18, a senior who led the protest. “He listens to us and is always there for us.”
Students chanted as they entered the School Department, marching up to the second floor and then back down into the lobby. They immediately drew the attention of high-ranking officials, who invited them into the School Committee chambers to hear them out.
“It’s kind of emotional,” said Kevin Yanes, a student, just before the meeting began. “We haven’t seen him for a while. We miss him.”
Ligia Noriega-Murphy, an assistant superintendent who oversees the high schools, explained that privacy laws prevented the School Department from revealing the allegations made against McCaskill and repeatedly apologized that she could not say more about the investigation as students kept pressing for answers.
“I’m so sorry we don’t have answers for you,” she said.
The meeting turned personal at times, as students shared stories about how McCaskill, who has been at the school for 2½ years, has made a difference in their lives.
De’Monique O’Garro, a senior, recalled her sophomore year, when she was failing all her classes and McCaskill intervened.
“He came up to me, and he was like, ‘You need to step it up. You have potential,’ ” she said. “He was always on my case, and I got all A’s my junior year.”
Superintendent Tommy Chang, who was out of town Friday for a national conference, is planning to meet with some students next week.
Noriega-Murphy said the School Department hopes to have the investigation completed next week.
Meneide expressed disappointment after the meeting.
“We didn’t get fully all the answers,” she said. “We are disappointed about that.”