Danver’s school principal is retiring after an investigation into a hockey case

Following the Globe report, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Department opened an investigation into the school district’s handling of the case.

Dana and her administration have been sharply criticized by human rights groups, elected representatives and the Danver Teachers’ Association.

No reason was given for Dana’s medical leave, though at a school board meeting in December she complained that a media “firestorm” over the hockey case was causing her and others emotional distress.

“To protect my own mental health, I quickly had to learn not to look at the comments on social media and at the same time take a critical look at how the situation was handled,” Dana said.

While she remains on leave, her duties have been taken on by acting co-superintendents Keith Taverna and Mary Wermers, both former assistant superintendents. The school committee has extended their contracts until May 31, when the situation, according to the board, will be reassessed.

Dana, 55, is the latest Danvers administrator involved in the hockey case that left the district. The high school principal, Jason Colombino, and the assistant principal, Sean Emberley, moved on. Taverna announced in March that he will travel in early June to work in another district.

The then hockey coach, Danvers police sergeant Stephen Baldassare, also withdrew from the athletic staff. Baldassare remains in charge of the district’s school police resource officers despite calls in the local community for him to be reassigned from working with students.

A member of Baldassare’s team told the Globe that several teammates held him back in the locker room and slapped his face with a plastic sex toy because he refused to shout the n-word as part of a ritual. In another ritual, the player said, he was touched on the buttocks after team leaders asked the players to dress naked in the dark.

Many of Baldassare’s players also participated in a team group text chain filled with deeply offensive racial, homophobic and anti-Semitic languages ​​and images.

Baldassare has refused to know anything about the alleged violations.

Athletics Director Andrew St. Pierre also remains at work amid complaints that he failed to monitor the hockey team properly. The high school wrestling team last fall was also temporarily suspended after a fight broke out when a student confronted a member of the team over his alleged use of racial language.

The fight led to the discovery of a group chat that contained hateful and biased language, according to the new principal, Adam Federico, who has been seen as contributing to improving the school’s culture.

As for Dana, in March 2021, the school board chose to extend her contract to 2026 to a salary of nearly $ 197,000 despite complaints from the community about the district’s handling of the hockey case. There was no mention in the board’s statement on Tuesday about how or whether the contact has been renegotiated.

Instead, the committee focused on Dana’s contribution to the community.

“Dr. Dana has had a long, productive and beneficial relationship with the district, and we support her decision,” the statement said. Dana has been with Danvers Public Schools for 32 years and served as superintendent for almost 18 years. She is currently the longest-serving superintendent on the North Shore. “

The committee commended Dana for overseeing the construction of three school buildings, for supporting families affected by a chemical fire in 2006 that damaged more than 90 homes in the city, and for helping to counter an influx of families in 2015 as part of a state program to house. the homeless at Danver’s hotels.

Dana was also credited for leading society through the tragedy of a high school student who murdered a math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, in 2013 and for leading the school system through the pandemic.

The board said, “We thank Dr. Dana for her many contributions and wish her a happy and healthy retirement.”


Bob Hohler can be contacted at robert.hohler@globe.com.

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