Mother accuses Newton North High of racial profiling

Mother accuses Newton North High of racial profiling
By Sarah Thomas
Globe Correspondent / December 3, 2010

A recent Newton North High School graduate was stopped and questioned by the school’s principal in the presence of a police officer during the Thanksgiving football game, prompting the young man’s mother to accuse the school of racial profiling.

Newton superintendent David Fleishman conducted an inquiry and said he found nothing wrong. Fleishman defended the actions of Newton North principal Jen Price after parent Avonelle Christian complained.

“The investigation is closed, and we are satisfied there was no wrongdoing,’’ Fleishman said yesterday. “We fully intend to continue discussions . . . and hope we can hear her concerns and try to gain an understanding.’’

Christian, a Newton resident, said she and her son attended the game to cheer on his younger brother, who plays on the team. She asked that her sons not be identified to protect their privacy.

She said her older son, a Newton North graduate who attends Franklin Pierce University, “wasn’t doing anything wrong. . . . He was a young black man walking through the crowd and shaking hands with his friends.’’

Price said she approached him after a faculty member reported seeing what appeared to be an exchange of drugs.

Price said an officer accompanied her and the former student into the main office, where Price asked him “to turn out his pockets’’ and checked inside his coat. “We didn’t find anything, so I thanked him and he went back to the game.’’

Newton Police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker said no charges were filed.

Fleishman and Price said conducting searches is part of the district’s drug policy and happens regularly at school and sporting events.

“My intention was to prevent drug use,’’ Price said. “But regardless of my intent, I am very concerned at the effect this has had on this family.’’

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

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