PARENTS HELD SIGNS in front of Wakefield Memorial High School this morning to protest the expected return to school on Monday of a male student accused of posting sexually explicit photos of female students on social media. (Mark Sardella Photo)


WAKEFIELD — Several dozen parents stood out in front of Wakefield Memorial High School this morning to protest the expected return to school on Monday of a student at the center of recent incidents of alleged sexual harassment via social media.

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.

To date, the student at the center of the investigation has not faced criminal charges.

As students and staff were arriving for school today, parents in front of the high school held signs that read, “Protect Victims Not the Predator,” “Keep Our Girls Safe,” “Wakefield Supports Upskirting” and “Our Girls Should Feel Safe in School.”

The schools first public acknowledgement of the situation came on Friday, Oct. 15, when Wakefield school administrators issued a statement regarding “concerning and damaging social media behavior at WMHS.”

In the days prior to the official statement, rumors spread among parents, several of whom contacted the Daily Item. That speculation included a belief on the part of parents that explicit and inappropriate images of female students had been shared by another Wakefield Memorial High School student on a social media platform.

At that time, School Superintendent Doug Lyons would not discuss the nature of the behavior citing an “active investigation.” He also would not discuss any disciplinary action, citing student confidentiality. He did confirm that Wakefield Police are involved.

The student was reportedly suspended for a period of time, but parents have been told by the school that he will return on Monday, Nov. 22.

The memorandum sent out on Oct. 15 by the School Department was signed by Lyons, Assistant Superintendent Kara Mauro, WMHS Principal Amy McLeod and Galvin Middle School Principal Megan Webb. The following is the full text of the memorandum:

“A core value of the Wakefield Public Schools is to maintain a respectful and caring environment where all students can thrive. A foundational piece of this work is creating a safe space at school that includes preventing and addressing any behaviors that put students at risk. This week, we learned of concerning and damaging social media behavior at WMHS that has impacted many of our students. These behaviors cannot and will not be tolerated in our school community. When things like this occur, our first responsibility as school leaders is to ensure that our students are safe. We take this responsibility seriously at all times, protecting our students both physically and emotionally.

“We are still in the midst of actively investigating, meeting with students, hearing concerns, and working with all of the resources in the school and community, including the Wakefield Police Department. When difficult situations such as this arise, they can be followed by additional social media posts from concerned community members. These posts are often intended to help, but without all of the facts, they can lead to the sharing of misinformation which could be harmful to the students and families involved, as well as the ongoing investigation.

“If you can, we ask that you show empathy for all of the students and families impacted by this situation. These actions alone will support and help our community. If you or your children have questions or concerns, or are in need of support, please reach to school counselors, school administrators, or any of us to help guide this process. We are actively supporting all of our students and families to help our community heal and slowly move forward together.

“As our work continues during this investigation, we will provide additional information as it becomes available.”

That memorandum was followed on Thursday, Oct. 21 by another official statement from the schools.

“We want to update you to let you know that the Wakefield Police Department and the Wakefield Public Schools continue to work together to investigate the events that occurred last week on Social Media and at WMHS. We have collaborated to support members of the community that have been impacted by these events. The School Administrative Team, Counselors, and the School Resource Officers continue to work at creating safe spaces at school for all students.”

The parents who were protesting outside the school this morning said that they plan to return tomorrow morning.

Messages left for school administrators requesting comment on today’s protest were not returned.