Parents address concerns about 'fight club' scandal at Montville school

Parents and students in Montville voiced their concerns about an infamous "fight club" scandal that led to the arrest...

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 5:38 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 5:38 PM

Parents and students in Montville voiced their concerns about an infamous "fight club" scandal that led to the arrests of several school administrators and a substitute teacher.

Superintendent Brian Levesque, 45, of Brooklyn, assistant principal Tatiana Patten, 59, of Niantic and 64-year-old principal Jeffrey Theodoss of Shrewsberry, MA were arrested in connection with the incident.

All three were placed on leave.

Substitute math teacher Ryan Fish was arrested for egging on the fights, which were recorded by students and posted to social media. The fights happened in Oct. 2017, police said.

Fish told police that it was a way to "let them get their energy out."

Students returned to school on Monday from spring break. It was the first time they were in class since the administrator arrests were reported last week.

Parents voiced the opinions to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

"Everyone worries about protecting our kids from the dangers of the outside world, but who protects them from what's happening inside the school," asked Montville parent Donna Swinburn.

Some residents blasted district leaders for creating an atmosphere they claim includes double standards for misconduct along with widespread bullying. Beth Chateauneuf said removing the administrators who are on paid leave would be a good start.

"I wish they were gone, and I wish they would never come back," said Chateauneuf.

There were also complaints because the newly installed assistant high school principal Phil Orbe was also just placed on leave Monday. He is under investigation for allegedly making an inappropriate comment to a student. Assistant superintendent Laurie Pallin said the investigation has nothing to do with the alleged fight club.

Some students spoke to defend their school and its leaders.

"I think it's important to realize that Montville High School is so much more than one of two scandals. It's so much more than three administrators even. It's all of the students and all of the faculty and staff who contribute to the school environment every day," said Montville High School student Joshua Archibald.

"It feels like they're insulting me because this school system has like raised me in a way. So when they insult them, it's like a jab to me as well," added Montville high school student Ashley Boyer

School officials addressed the incident with the acting assistant principal on Tuesday afternoon.

"We are addressing all issues with heightened scrutiny and the seriousness and attention they deserve," Pallin said.

Assistant superintendent Laurie Pallin was named acting superintendent. She believes the district can turn the page because the community still supports the schools.

"Everyone has reached out to offer support to us. This has been a really difficult time. So I'm ready to start the real work," said Pallin.

The future of those charged in the "fight club" scandal remains up to the Board of Education.

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