WAKEFIELD — School administrators say they’re doing what they can under the law as they face continuing anger over letting a student at the center of alleged sexual harassment back into Wakefield Memorial High next week.

Yesterday, dozens of protestors stood near the high school to express their dissatisfaction. They held signs reading “Protect the victims, not the predator” and “Help keep out girls safe.”

The male student, a WMHS junior, is alleged to have taken and posted on social media hundreds of sexually explicit and inappropriate photos of female students along with sexually threatening comments directed at female students. Police are investigating.

To date, the student at the center of the investigation has not faced criminal charges. He is set to return to school Monday.

Yesterday afternoon, Supt. of Schools Doug Lyons and Asst. Supt. Kara Mauro sent a response about the protest on behalf of the administration team.

“As many of you are aware, on October 11, 2021, the Wakefield Public Schools (WPS) learned of an incident regarding a high school student’s serious and inappropriate use of social media. As soon as this conduct was reported, WPS began collaborating with the Wakefield Police Department and took action to assess and address the situation, including providing all necessary interventions. Families of impacted students collaborated with the police and Wakefield Memorial High School (WMHS) administration to provide the initial information and worked with us throughout the investigation.

“(Yesterday) morning, a protest occurred near WMHS to express concerns about the incident, student discipline, and next steps. All of our administrative actions are rooted in investigative facts, our legal responsibilities as a public school district, our student handbook, and the needs of our students.

“We have responded to emails, met with students and families, and worked collaboratively with the Wakefield Police Department since the onset of this investigation.

“We understand that our inability to provide details of a confidential student investigation to the public can be a source of frustration and anger. We also understand how quickly misinformation can spread, creating additional conflict, fear, and worry.

“The students and families impacted all require different levels of support to process this incident and find a path forward. We also acknowledge that an issue as complicated as this extends to the larger student body and we are prepared to support that work. In the coming months, an internet safety expert will be working with students at the middle and high schools to address safety and appropriate use of social media tools, as we seek to learn from this incident and move forward in a positive direction.

“In regard to the actual student conduct, we have shared all of the information that state and federal laws regarding student privacy permit us to share. We want to reassure you that extensive steps have been taken to maintain a safe school environment. We will continue to promptly and proactively address any threat to the privacy, safety, and well-being of our students. This is still an active case with the Wakefield Police Department, and we remain fully committed to supporting the police department’s ongoing work.

“We respect the right of community members to protest peacefully and urge everyone to be mindful of the range of student needs in this case. Our teachers and clinicians are deeply engaged in the process of providing support that aligns with the needs of each student impacted by these traumatic events.

“If you or your children have questions about this situation that you would like to talk through, please reach out to your principals, counselors, or to us here at Central Office,” the message concludes.