A Massachusetts teacher is back at school, despite his recent arrest.
According to the Gloucester Times, Anthony Altieri is accused of assaulting his girlfriend during an argument in Essex and smashing her face into a door frame just over a week ago.
Altieri is a 13-year-veteran of Wilmington High School.
"It's definitely upsetting. We never expected it from him," said senior Madison Knibbs. "He's like a gentle giant."
Altieri told police he admitted to the attack, but only after his girlfriend slapped him first.
"Well obviously it was wrong if that's what happened," said senior Robbie Ducharme. "I don't condone it but everyone has their right to the legal system. I think people are going a too little over the top with it because in no way shape or form I think our safety is being affected in any way."
Students told necn Altieri is already addressing the issue in gym class.
"He apologized and he said he doesn't want us to look at him differently," said junior Lauren D'Angelo. "He said he doesn't want us to hesitate to ask him questions."
Wilmington Superintendent Mary DeLai said, in part, in an email to the school community, "The decision to permit his return to the classroom is based on his tenure and record of performance. We hope that people respect that he is owed his day in court and his right to privacy."
According to the Essex District Attorney, Altieri posted bail after his arraignment and is due back in court in mid-October.
"In the school building he's a real good guy, real respectful," said senior Dave Woods. "He's by the book, he's innocent until proven guilty, it's not our job to judge him."
Altieri is facing several charges including assault and battery, and destruction of property.
"I also thought it's a good thing he came back — it shouldn't have been everyone's business," said senior Haley DiLorenzo. "And they also don't know if he's guilty or not."
Monday night, Superintendent DeLai responded to necn's request for a comment:
"Wilmington Public Schools is aware of the concerns of some individuals surrounding its decision to allow Mr. Altieri to return to his position as a physical education teacher at Wilmington High School following recent allegations of domestic assault. The school district wants the public to know that before making the decision to return Mr. Altieri to his position, it thoroughly considered all aspects of this matter before concluding that he should be returned to work.
Last week, Mr. Altieri was placed on paid administrative leave for several days in order to allow the school district to gather more information about the incident, to allow it to assess whether or not Mr. Altieris return to his teaching position would pose a threat to the safety of students or staff, and to allow the school district the opportunity to consult with legal counsel. Based on the information gathered, the school district made the decision that Mr. Altieris return did not pose a threat to the safety of students or staff and it returned him to his teaching position at the start of this week. The school district has looked at this issue from multiple perspectives, including reviewing Mr. Altieris' record as an educator in Wilmington for the past thirteen years. Our first concern is the safety and well-being of our students, staff and families and we would not have returned Mr. Altieri to his position if we did not believe that he did not pose a threat. At this point we will defer to the legal process and will continue to monitor this matter moving forward."