, Gloucester, MA

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June 25, 2008

Editorial: Too many questions remain to move forward

So, maybe there was a "pact" — and maybe there wasn't.

Depending on how one defines that term, it seems more and more as if there wasn't a Gloucester High School "pregnancy pact" in the true sense of that word. But one thing is clear: city and school officials should stop focusing on that and turn their attention to something else — like a virtual epidemic of teen pregnancies, including a number that may have been intentional.

For the past several days — as the media frenzy continues to swirl around the city's teen pregnancy spike — far too much of the discussion has been about semantics.

According to Mayor Carolyn Kirk and schools Superintendent Christopher Farmer, who led a press conference in front of a host of television cameras Monday afternoon, they and other school officials were not able to "confirm" that nearly half of the 18 young teens who have become pregnant during the past school year had made a "pact" with one another to do so, and then raise their children together.

Curiously — very curiously — the one official who had spoken of such a pact wasn't there. Instead, Kirk and Farmer spoke for Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan. They said he "didn't remember" who had told him of the existence of a pact. And Kirk said she was uncomfortable having Sullivan at the press conference because she and others had not been able to "confirm" his statements.

So why not let him speak for himself? The fact is, his absence — and he has been unavailable for more than a week since the Times last spoke to him June 13 — whether it was ordered by his superiors or not, simply raises more questions. And there are too many questions that remain unanswered.

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