Around New England

When Kindergarteners Attack

November 25, 2018

Kindergarteners and first-graders in the north central Massachusetts town of Orange have been attacking other students, threatening teachers, and causing evacuations of the school, parents said.

About 30 parents and teachers took about an hour and a half during the Orange School Committee meeting last week describing incidents like stabbing students with pencils and trashing classrooms, according to the Athol Daily News.

“My daughter is petrified,” one mother told the Athol School Committee, according to the Athol Daily News, adding that she is letting her daughter stay home to avoid violent classmates.

Respect for the authority of adults seems limited.

The Athol Daily News reported that a teaching paraprofessional, Tarrah Hart, told the School Committee during the meeting Monday, November 19 that she has heard the following from students:  “‘Hey, Mrs. Hart. You know I can get you fired’.”

Fisher Hill Elementary School in Orange serves prekindergarten through second grade. In October the principal was apparently placed on administrative leave while the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families investigates, although government officials have refused to state the reason for the investigation, citing confidentiality of personnel matters, according to the Greenfield Recorder.

Cutting the number of kindergarten classes from four to three because of budget problems this school year led to a difficult situation, school officials told the School Committee. The superintendent said she is using a new grant to add a fourth kindergarten class.

The School Committee plans to hold a follow-up meeting.

Orange, which calls itself “The Friendly Town,” has a population of about 7,800. The school also serves the towns of Wendell (population 900), New Salem (population 1,000), and Petersham (population 1,250).

The web site of the school district states:

“At Orange Elementary Schools we celebrate each other’s differences and strive to meet the needs of all students through the collaboration among staff, family, and community.”

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