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September 4, 2013

Dear Newton Community,

I am writing to give you an update on the first day of school and the community meeting that was held at Day Middle School last night.  As you can imagine, many people remain stunned regarding the arrest of one of our teachers on child pornography charges last week.

I visited Day on two different occasions yesterday to check in with the administration and faculty and greet students.  I am very pleased to tell you that it was an excellent opening at Day and I cannot say enough about the work that Principal Brian Turner and the entire Day faculty and staff did to ensure that the students had a positive experience on their first day.  In the coming days, we will be certain to provide the necessary support to the Day Middle School students and staff as we recognize that individuals process upsetting information in various stages.

We also checked in with principals at other schools throughout the day and the consistent reports we received indicated that schools were functioning very well.  I was not surprised to hear this news, as our crisis team worked diligently to ensure the faculty was prepared to address whatever concerns might arise.  As we expected, an overwhelming majority of students wanted to focus on the excitement of starting a new school year, beginning their classes and reconnecting with their friends.

Last night, we had a community forum where parents and other residents had the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of me, the Newton Police and mental health experts.  Clearly, the news of last Friday has the potential to erode public trust in our system and our goal last night was to assure the community that the Newton Public Schools remain safe, secure and fully capable of meeting both the academic and emotional needs of our children.

I appreciate how difficult it is to comprehend the alleged actions of a veteran employee who showed no signs of any inappropriate behavior nor was the recipient of any such complaints.  As I said last night, in the coming weeks, we will not only continue to review the record of this employee, we will continue to ensure that our background checks, reference checks and employee complaint process are as thorough as possible.

Thank you very much for your understanding and support during a challenging start to the school year.  Given the outpouring of goodwill that I have seen over the past several days, I feel confident that the year ahead will be a positive one.

Sincerely,

David

David A. Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools