By Joseph Sullivan
At the request of the School Department, I have made no public comments since the publication of the Time magazine article. I am issuing this statement today to put to rest the notion that I am "foggy in my memory" or that when pressed, "my memory failed," statements attributed to the mayor in her press conference this past Monday.
On June 11, near the end of a regularly scheduled meeting with staff, I was informed by a school secretary that a magazine reporter was in the main office lobby to see me. When the meeting concluded, I went to my office and introduced myself to Kathleen Kingsbury, who identified herself as a Time magazine correspondent. She told me that she had questions about the previously published reports about the increased incidences of pregnancy at the high school. We met in my office. Ms. Kingsbury's initial questions to me were general in nature and centered on the origin and role of the Health Center and the child-care program at the high school, which I answered. Her direct question to me was whether I thought the distribution of birth control prescriptions or prophylactic devices at the Health Center would have prevented the spike in the number of pregnancies that have been reported this year. I told her "no" because my sources had informed me that a significant number of the pregnancies, especially among the younger students, were the result of deliberate and intentional behavior. I also told her that the issuance of birth control prescriptions or the distribution of prophylactics would not take place at the Health Center unless it was with parental consent and school department approval.
I honestly do not remember specifically using the word "pact" in my meeting with the Time magazine reporter, but I do specifically remember telling Ms. Kingsbury that my understanding was that a number of the pregnancies were intentional and that the students within this group were friendly with each other. At no time in the interview did I mention any student names nor did I breach any confidences and at the conclusion of the meeting, I told Ms. Kingsbury to leave the high school property because I did not want her to be trying to interview students.
Shortly after my meeting with Ms. Kingsbury, I was informed by a staff member that the superintendent had sent an e-mail to high school personnel prior to my meeting alerting staff that a Time magazine reporter was in town. I then called the superintendent and told him I had already met with the Time magazine reporter. Although the e-mail was sent prior to my meeting with Ms. Kingsbury, I did not see or hear about it until after I met with her. It was not until later in the afternoon, as is my practice, that I opened and read my e-mail.
My only direct source of information about the intentional pregnancies at the high school was the former nurse practitioner at the Health Center. My other sources are verbal staff reports and student/staff chatter, all of which I have found to be very reliable in my experience as a principal and all of which I filter myself for accuracy and keep confidential.
I want to make the following points:
1. Since June 11, until this day, the mayor has not called me or had any conversation whatsoever with me concerning the Time magazine interview.
2. I believe everything I told Kathleen Kingsbury was and is accurate.
3. For the last two (2) weeks, my family and I have been harassed and harangued by reporters and the press. I will not subject anybody else to this kind of abuse and for that reason, and in respect to the confidences I share with these persons, I will not be giving out the names of any other persons or my sources concerning the pregnancy issue at the high school.
4. Even though I am the principal of the high school, I have no access to any student records at the Health Center. These records are confidential. Moreover, the Health Center is staffed and run by the hospital, not the school. The school merely provides the space and logistical support for the center.
5. I am proud to be the principal of Gloucester High School. The administration, teaching and support staff and the students expect that the reputation of the school should be measured by what happens on the campus. The school cannot be held accountable for out-of-school activities of a relatively few of its students.
6. The affected children need to be left alone with their parents and families to deal with the consequences of their actions. Intense media attention needs to come to a stop as it distorts the reality of the situation by focusing attention on the sources of information about the problem of "children having children" instead of seeking solutions to the problem itself.
I will have nothing more to say on this matter. I look forward to the business of getting back to the business of getting the High School ready for the fall semester.
Principal, Gloucester High School