Third party to review harassment claims

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OXFORD – An independent third party will be hired to study allegations of harassment at the Paris Elementary School made by parents this past school year.

The School Committee on Monday night authorized Superintendent Mark Eastman to commission the impartial study following charges that became public during the spring that a small group of second-grade students had been exhibiting inappropriate and harassing behavior.

Eastman said the third party will look at existing harassment procedures, determine if they were followed when the allegations occurred, and make recommendations on how to improve responses to such incidents.

He said the move will reassure parents that school officials are continuing to be open and responsive about the process.

Committee member John Jenness asked Monday what would happen if the study found the school had not followed proper procedure. Eastman said the town’s legal counsel will review the committee’s recommendation before it is implemented.

School and community members also have established a harassment study committee to look at the issue on a district-wide level. Eastman said the committee has met once and so far its work appears to be “very productive.”

The committee is expected to meet again at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 9 in the administrative office. The meetings are open to the public.

In other business Monday night, Dale Piirainen stepped down as chairman and turned the reins over to newly elected Chairman Ron Kugell. Mary Pietroski was elected vice chairman.

Committee members also voted to reappoint the Finance Committee, comprised of Don Gouin, Bill Hanger, Ron Kugell, Piirainen and Joe Vaillancourt.

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