Dorchester charter school goes online-only after nearby 'shots-fired' incident

The Centre Street campus of Neighborhood House Charter School is located close to Shawmut MBTA station.

Dorchester’s Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS) has moved to an online-only model after a shooting incident at the nearby Shawmut MBTA station last Friday in which a student is thought to have been the intended target.

No one was hurt in the May 31 “shots fired” incident, but it prompted swift action from school administrators, who remain very concerned about future violence targeting the school community.

The upper grades of the charter school, which are housed in part in the old St. Mark’s School campus on Centre Street, suspended in-person classes for grades 8-11 on Monday in response to last week’s incident. Seniors have already concluded classes, and the lower grades attend school at a different building on Pope’s Hill. The school’s upper campus was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Thursday, the NHCS’s director Kate Scott said the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) approved the school’s request to stay remote until June 14 out of concern for student safety.

“While there have been no incidents on our campus, many of our students commute to and from school on the MBTA,” Scott said in a statement to The Reporter. “Last Friday, several shots were fired at the Shawmut T station. Police believe one of our students - who is not currently attending school in person - was the intended target.

She added: “We also became aware that individuals associated with the alleged assailants from last week’s incident were communicating with members of our community that they intended to return. The alleged assailants are not NHCS scholars.”

DESE confirmed to the Reporter late Thursday that the request had been made and Acting Commissioner Russell D. Johnston granted the request to hold school remotely for grades 8-11 “for a limited period, due to a safety concern.”

“We are grateful that DESE granted us this request and is taking seriously the safety and wellbeing of our community,” Scott’s statement says. “This is an evolving situation, and we are balancing getting information out in a timely fashion with working behind the scenes to make these changes. We are working hard to center the safety of our scholars, staff, and families in all of the decisions that we are making.”

Other shooting incidents near Shawmut Station over the past few weeks, including Monday night, have also heightened anxieties.

The NHCS Upper School campus was the focus of several lockdowns and incidents last year after a group of adults were allegedly threatening students near the school, something that prompted extra security at the school’s celebrations and other events.

NHCS has and continues to work with a security team from Concrete Protective Services, the Boston Police Department, and the MBTA Transit Police to have enhanced security when scholars and staff are on campus.

-This is a developing story.-


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