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Boston Superintendent: ‘Mistake’ To Not Discipline Headmaster Accused Of Assault

BOSTON — The head of the Boston School Department says she made a mistake in not disciplining a headmaster arrested for domestic assault last year.

Superintendent Carol Johnson says she should have placed Rodney Peterson, a headmaster at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics & Science in Roxbury, on administrative leave after he was charged with choking his wife last June.

“I made a mistake,” Johnson said in an interview with Deborah Becker on Morning Edition Tuesday. “I wish I had done things differently. In retrospect, I wish I had placed [Peterson] on leave immediately until it is resolved and then determined his continued employment.”

Peterson later pleaded guilty to sufficient facts and was sentenced to a year of probation. He has since left the Boston school system.

Johnson also said Tuesday she should not have written a letter to a judge on Peterson’s behalf.

She said she wants to have a new policy in place by the end of the week for dealing with employees charged with violent acts.

On Monday, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he’s ordered all supervisors to immediately suspend employees accused of domestic violence.

“[Peterson] was a great educator. But on the other side, on the domestic violence problem, that’s a bigger problem for me,” Menino told WBUR’s Lynn Jolicoeur. “And I think we have to deal with that as effectively as we can in the future. And I’ve told that to the superintendent.”

But Menino said Johnson’s failure to act doesn’t send a bad message to students.

“One instance? One instance too many, but I don’t think it sends a message to anyone,” he said. “And I just think the superintendent has said that she wishes she could do it again.”

Click the player above for the full Morning Edition interview with Johnson.

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