Principal on Leave After Incident Between Hartford Teacher and Student: Source

One day after a math teacher was put on paid leave, the principal of the Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker in Hartford was also put on paid administrative leave, a source told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

The move, district officials said, is precautionary and pending the outcome of a police investigation that stems from an incident involving an 11-year-old female student and the math teacher.

There were two meetings held Friday morning at the school, one for staff members of Mary Hooker Magnet and one for parents. Parents learned the vice principal would be temporarily taking over while Principal Lindsey Thompson is on leave.

"In the current matter, we are taking swift action to investigate and address the concerns brought to the administration at this time there is no risk of danger to our students," Thompson said in a robo-call to parents. 

Hartford police are investigating the complaint involving the girl and her male teacher, but the nature of the complaint has not been disclosed.

"I would want to make sure the law is followed and he's removed from the school and that doesn't happen again," the father of a student Derek told NBC Connecticut on Friday. 

Derek told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters he wasn’t aware of the situation but has a kindergarten student and a second-grader at Mary Hooker.

"Hopefully, it's not true but, I mean, allegations, you just got to follow the letter, follow the letter of the law, for all the children's safety," Derek said. 

District officials believe posters plastered around schools helped move the concern forward.

The Department of Children and Families (DFC) was contacted by district officials to investigate, as the law mandates. 

Earlier this year, the Hartford school district overhauled its policies after a report from the State Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) that said the district has mishandled abuse claims for years.

"If there were actual things set in place to present this as Super said this would be, this would not have happened," Child advocate Dr. Aaron Lewis told NBC Connecticut.

Lewis, who tried to bring attention to a previous incident last year, questions whether the new protocols were fully followed in this case.

The superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, released this statement through a school spokesman.

"At Hartford Public Schools the safety of our students is our highest priority. The school district has placed staff on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation of an alleged incident at the Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker."

On Friday morning, the Central Office leadership held separate meetings at the school with parents and staff to make sure are all aware of the situation and that no students are at risk at this time.

The OCA report identified serious failings in the district’s procedures, practices and culture regarding mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect dating back to 2007.

In collaboration with partner agencies, including the OCA, the district has revised mandated reporter training compliance and informed staff about the resulting disciplinary action for failure to comply with our moral and statutory obligations.

The district has also implemented the Tell Someone safety campaign for students, staff, families and community organizations along with the DCF's child safety messaging. In September, the district agreed to terms with an independent monitor to oversee and render accountability as we change our practices, procedures and culture to assure that all students are safe in our schools.

Police have confirmed the investigation to NBC Connecticut.

Mayor Luke Bronin, also released a statement through a city spokesman:

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our students, and any allegations of this kind must be taken very seriously. Hartford Public Schools has placed two individuals on leave pending an internal investigation. I have spoken personally to Chief Rovella about this issue and the Hartford Police Department’s Special Investigations Division is conducting an investigation as well."

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