North Andover High School’s administrators are hiring a consultant to investigate and review their "School Safety Plan," a controversial contract that requires students who report assaults to keep their distance from their alleged perpetrators.
Superintendent Gregg Gilligan made the announcement during Thursday's school committee meeting in front of a packed auditorium filled with students and parents.
The decision comes after former North Andover High School student, 18-year-old Eliezer Tuttle, was accused of indecent assault. Since then, Tuttle has been accused of several other assaults.
"Imagine being in my shoes, waking up with constant anxiety in the morning knowing that I was going to go and make my best effort to get an education while facing my perpetrator," one 17-year-old girl who was allegedly assaulted by Tuttle said.
Four students alleged they were assaulted by Tuttle, who is now facing several sexual assault charges in Salem, New Hampshire.
He now sits in jail as he awaits trial after being charged with rape in March. Tuttle is being held in jail without bail.
Hundreds of students staged a walkout earlier this month to express their frustration with the administration, who previously allowed Tuttle to remain on campus and play sports after the alleged attacks were reported. The students also expressed their disappointment with the “School Safety Plan.”
"I couldn't go anywhere in the school without administrators watching me. I was always told if I violated the plan I’d signed it’d result on school discipline," the girl said.
The child’s grandmother came to the girl’s defense.
"She's the one that stood up in a courtroom at 17-years-old and told what happened to her and went to court eight times in eight months," the unnamed woman said. "And still got all this crap from the school. 'You can’t walk here. Don’t do this. You can’t go there.'"
Around the time of the walkout, Gilligan issued a statement saying: "I understand the concern parents have when it is reported that one of our high school students has been charged with a crime. I want to assure you that the safety and well-being of our students drive every decision we make and every action we take as a district."