GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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March 11, 2013

New West Parish program set to start Thursday

GLOUCESTER — A new after-school program run by the Cape Ann YMCA is set to be launched at West Parish school this Thursday, according to Superintendent of Schools Richard Safier — nearly two weeks after a program that had served 82 students and 60 families was abruptly shut down over a still-undefined scenario that sparked an investigation by city police, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office and the state’s Department of Children and Families.

YMCA officials have confirmed that they would be staffing the new program with four supervisors, and West Parish Principal Telena Imel is notifying parents that those looking to have their children participate in the new program are invited to complete applications and meet and speak with the YMCA’s new program staffers Tuesday at 5:30 at the school.

Safier also confirmed that the YMCA would be staffing as well as coordinating the revived program, though the superintendent has not indicated whether the three regular supervisors and one substitute who had run the program previously as school district employees have been ousted, suspended or simply transferred to other roles.

Safier and Police Chief Leonard Campanello have both said that the investigation — which Campanello confirmed Friday remains “ongoing” — has largely focused on the level of supervision of the program, and Campanello has said police have not confirmed that an incident involved criminal action. Some families who spoke to the Times last week, however, said that the incident that led to the intervention by school, state and law enforcement officials involved older students in the program, not adults. By definition, the West Parish program serves students up to Grade 5.

Campanello has also said that all parents involved have been contacted, and that any problem did not involve other aspects of the school.

West Parish is the largest of the city’s five elementary schools, with some 380 students and a staff of about 70. It is also the school targeted by city and school officials for either extensive renovation or full replacement under a building proposal now under study through the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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