AG investigates school district as NAACP demands action over Danvers hockey case

Massaachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks into a microphone at a press conference. Her office launched an investigation into the Danvers school district. The photo was taken by Jesse Costa of WBUR.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her office launched an investigation into the Danvers school district. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Leaders in Danvers are facing renewed scrutiny for their alleged mishandling of reports made in 2020 of violent, racist, homophobic, and antisemitic behaviors by the district's boys' hockey team.

This week, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched a formal investigation into the Danvers school district. And the North Shore branch of the NAACP told The Boston Globe that it is calling for  Stephen Baldassare, the hockey team's head coach at the time, to be reassigned.

The actions come a few months after a Globe investigation found that the district's superintendent, backed by the school board at the time, withheld information about the hockey team's hazing practices for more than 16 months after the allegations first surfaced.

During the district's investigation, a member of the hockey team reported he was physically restrained and beat when he refused to say the n-word during one of the group's rituals called "Hard R Friday," in reference to the same slur. And in a separate ritual, called "Gay Tuesday," he told investigators he was touched inappropriately in the buttocks after stripping naked.

Separate from the AG's actions this week, the NAACP told the Globe it is calling for greater accountability from the Danvers Police Department for its role in the controversy, asking the department to reform its hiring, training and transparency practices. Baldassare is a Danvers police sergeant who supervises school resource officers.

The AG's investigation and the NAACP's demands are the latest in the fallout resulting from the hockey allegations.

In December, superintendent Lisa Dana went on a medical leave of absence, following the Globe's investigation and criticism from new school board members of her decision to withhold information about the allegations.

Baldassare resigned as the head hockey coach last year, after first accepting the offer extended to him by the district.

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Vanessa Ochavillo Associate Producer
Vanessa Ochavillo is an associate producer for WBUR focused on digital news.



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