Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 21, 2013

Investigation into student's 'hit list'

By Neil Fater and Dustin Luca, Staff Writers
The Andover Townsman

---- — Police are investigating an incident involving a West Middle School student who officials say brought a “hit list” to school, and the district attorney’s office is evaluating whether it warrants charges being brought against the student.

“I can’t talk specifics because it’s an active case,” said police Chief Brian Pattullo. “The school staff acted immediately to inform the police. They took it seriously and followed all the proper procedures and protocols. Because of that, action was taken to make sure the school is safe for students and staff.”

There were no charges filed as of Tuesday evening but Pattullo said the case was “being evaluated by the district attorney’s office as we speak. The district attorney’s office is looking into the case.”

An eighth grade boy at the school was talking to a friend about the hit list sometime last week, according to local media reports. When he was confronted by administrators later on, a document was discovered with the names of other students at the school on it.

The school district said in a press release presumably from Superintendent Marinel McGrath that it is “satisfied based on my communications with (school Principal Stephen Murray) that all appropriate and necessary measures have been taken in this instance to prevent any threat of danger in the school.”

No new information on the incident was available Tuesday on Townsman deadline, according to Assistant Superintendent Paul Szymanski.

In an email to West Middle School parents, Superintendent Marinel McGrath said that, “like all of the town’s schools, West Middle School strictly enforces all of the requirements stated in its handbook concerning prohibited conduct and discipline.”

Federal and state privacy laws prevent any details on specific disciplinary action from being made public, according to the release.

Police are also not offering further details on the incident, except to say it is under investigation to determine if the student involved in it acted criminally.

“There was a list that was supposedly produced,” Police Lt. James Hashem said. “There was no mention of any weapons.”

Calls to several members of the West Middle School community, including officials with the school’s Parent Advisory Council, were not returned.

West Middle School’s Family Handbook states hazing, extortion, violence, or threats thereof “directed towards another student or school personnel” are “examples of behaviors that may result in suspension.”

Additionally, “any

breaches of Federal law, Massachusetts State law, or bylaws of the Town of Andover may be handled in cooperation with the local police department and may result in expulsion,” the handbook says.