Gardner principal on leave for investigation into 'incident' involving student

GARDNER, Mass. — The principal of Gardner Academy for Learning and Technology has been placed on leave as the district investigates an "incident" that happened on a school bus involving the administrator and a student, according to a news release.

School officials would not release further information about what happened in the apparent altercation, which was caught on video by bus surveillance cameras and cellphones.

Some students are now facing serious charges. One student Boston 25 News spoke with has been suspended until at least Wednesday and could face expulsion. Izaiah Quinones says he saw his principal pinning down his friend over one of the bus seats.

"When I first saw him, when I first saw the purple in his face I could tell my friend was in harm like he was being hurt from the principal who’s supposed to be the role model of our school," Quinones said.

He says he then tried to help his friend, pushing through another teacher to get onto the bus.

"He went like this, like he was about to swing like hammer fist down on the kid," Quinones said.

Gardner Public Schools Superintendent Mark Pellegrino said the incident is being investigated and said, "videos posted on public media accurately depict brief moments of the end of this incident, they also create a narrative that is incomplete, misleading, and one-sided."

He said the district has obtained video from onboard the bus of the whole incident and has been turned over to the Gardner Police Department and Gardner's human resources director.

Izaiah's mother, Tracey Clarke, says she doesn't blame her son for trying to help his friend, but she would like to see the entire video from inside the bus to better understand why he is facing serious charges.

"Nobody’s allowing me to see the video from the school bus, so all we have to go on is what's outside the bus right now that the kids took," she said. "The rest of his life over this, trying to help somebody else because what he thought was going on was wrong."

The Gardner Academy is an alternative school serving as a drop-out prevention destination for 60 students.

The Department of Children and Families has been notified and is investigating alongside the district.

Principal Peter McMorrow has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

It's unclear if the full video from inside the bus will be released to the public.