ANDOVER — Administrators are investigating allegations of a "hostile work environment" at South School, according to a message sent from the principal of the school to the parents of students.
The email, sent Monday by Principal Tracy Crowley and Assistant Principal Kathleen Caron, said they had become "aware that there have been discussions within the community and on social media about some challenges that have come to light in recent weeks at South Elementary."
"The administration has been advised of allegations of a hostile work environment between some educators during the contractual workday at South Elementary School. If true, it is clearly something that we need to remedy.
"At the end of last week, (School Superintendent) Dr. (Sheldon) Berman spoke with our faculty and staff informing them the administration will begin an investigation, as we are obligated to do any time we receive such allegations. We have not determined the veracity of the allegations, which is the purpose of the investigation."
Comments and questions began appearing on the Facebook page "Andover Cares About Our Schools and Town" over the weekend, and seemed to indicate that something was wrong at South School. But there was little real detail.
In the statement to parents, Crowley and Caron said the discussions on social media "may not reflect an accurate depiction of events and we seek to provide as much information as we are legally able to provide to our families."
Berman met Monday night with members of the PTO at the South School to elaborate on the situation.
Monica Cirino, president of the PTO, confirmed there was a meeting with Berman but declined to get into specifics about what was said.
What she did say was that "every single teacher at that school goes above and beyond for every child. The community has nothing but support for every single teacher. The teachers are amazing and parents wholeheartedly support them 100 percent."
She added that "there is no way any teacher who works there would create a hostile work environment."
She said there were a lot of questions at the meeting, but that "a lot more need to be answered."
Berman could not be reached for comment. Crowley referred calls and emails to school spokeswoman Nicole Kieser.
Kieser said there was "very little additional information I’m able to provide, due to the fact this is a personnel matter and there is an on-going investigation."
She added that the investigation "is not about the principal or assistant principal."
The statement from the principals said the investigation would have no impact on students.
"We have ensured that every classroom will have coverage in the instance that an educator is unavailable to be in their classroom during this time," the statement said. "Our goals are always the education, well-being and safety of our students and we appreciate your understanding as we work toward these goals."