Minneapolis school board looking into Peck School abuse claims

Interview process is on hold for Sergio Paez

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Minneapolis school board is investigating accusations of abuse at the Peck School in Holyoke, and these findings could cost former Holyoke Superintendent Sergio Paez his new job.

Two members of the board arrived in Holyoke Friday to determine whether the alleged abuse happened under Paez’s watch. The Minneapolis board recently selected him to serve as their new superintendent.

“It’s tough to realize this after we had made a vote, which is actually confirming of the site visit, to make sure that before we sign a contract, that we know the person we’re getting,” Josh Reimnitz of the Minneapolis school board said.

The investigation centers on a program that helps students with disabilities.

The Peck School teachers were hired to create a calm learning environment for students. Instead, a report by the Boston-based Disability Law Center claims that teachers were both verbally and physically abusive. The report found students were forcefully restrained, slammed into walls, and slapped.

Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni and the Executive Office of Education are also looking into the accusations.

“Conversations are continuing to happen on, sort of various levels throughout the administration and different agencies to make sure that we’re protecting the health and safety of all those children,” Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser said.

The Minneapolis School Board has put contract negotiations with Doctor Paez on hold pending the investigation.

“We know that this is very troubling. We take it very seriously, but we also want to do our due diligence,” Tracine Asberry of the Minneapolis school board said.

The board plans to take a vote as a whole to determine whether the allegations will affect hiring.

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