Fitch student speaking out after lynching comment from peer

Groton — A junior at Fitch High School is speaking out after she said a classmate threatened to lynch her.

The 17-year-old, who did not wish to be named, said she was in class on Feb. 22 when she heard the comment.

"He said that it was directed toward his friend, but I personally thought it was directed toward me," she said, "and I was just like, that's not a cool thing for him to say."

When she got home, she spoke to her aunt, who is her guardian, about the incident. They went to the police station.

The student said she was hesitant about pressing charges, out of concern for the boy's efforts to get into college and how people would treat him, but her aunt wanted to press charges.

Town of Groton Police Capt. Steven Sinagra declined to comment on the incident, on the basis that it involves juveniles and is under investigation. He also said the police report could not be released, even if names were redacted, because juveniles were involved.

Fitch High School Principal Joseph Arcarese confirmed the male student made a reference to lynching.

"The kid that said it wasn't intending to threaten anybody, but she perceived it as a threat, and that's the important thing," he said.

Arcarese declined to comment on any disciplinary action taken, though he added, "I think everybody in the school knows what happened to the student."

Arcarese noted that he heard about the incident at 7:30 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 23, from the dean of students, and that it was handled within an hour. The 17-year-old girl also said the school handled the incident quickly.

"They handled it with some restorative practices, and I think we just really want kids to learn valuable lessons about being very careful with the words they choose to use," Assistant Superintendent Susan Austin said. "Whether they think it's a hoax or whether they are serious, in both cases it can't be done."

e.moser@theday.com

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