Police had to intervene and three parents were taken from the hall after speaking out at a very tense meeting of the South Hadley School Committee on Wednesday night. The chairman of the committee resigned amid heated discussions and a strong police presence.
The three parents angrily demanded the resignation of school officials over the bullying death of Irish girls Phoebe Prince who hung herself on January 14th.
It was the first meeting of the school committee since six students were charged with the bullying of Phoebe.
Chairman, Edward Boisselle, called the coverage and the event since the suicide a “mob mentality,” and repeated that school staff had not known that Phoebe was tormented by the bullies.
Boisselle stepped down as chairman, but claimed it was not related to the Prince case.
Some parents defended the school officials , saying that they were trying their best and they should stay on.
Others however, stated that they had lost credibility and should resign, and that the school did not do enough to defend Phoebe Prince. The police intervened when some exchanges became overheated.
Among those escorted out were Luke Gelinas s strong critic of the school officials who demanded that the chairman and the school principal resign.
"This is not your First Amendment right! You are here as a guest of the School Committee!” Chairman Edward Boisselle shouted at Gelinas as police escorted the father of two schoolchildren out of the public meeting.
Some sprung to the defense of Gelinas “I think it’s time, Ed, that you stopped attacking other people,” said Darby O’Brien, the father of two schoolchildren who has represented the Phoebe Prince family. “You need to hold the officials - who could have stepped in at any time and stopped this - accountable.”
“Nobody’s ever blamed any of the students but the ones who were charged,” said O’Brien “(School officials) just continue to blame everybody but themselves.
Another parent, Barrie Chambers-Leonard, criticized Boisselle, saying he had mishandled the meeting.
“If you were pro-school, you had the floor; if you weren’t, you were cut off,” she said, looking around at some 100 people crowded into the high school’s library before turning back to the school committee. “Darby, Luke, I wish they had gotten their fair chance. Right now you guys aren’t looking so great.”