The “pact” that Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan reported to Time magazine has not been verified by any other sources, and Mayor Carolyn Kirk said it will remain under investigation.
In response to the media frenzy that has taken Gloucester, Mass., by storm, Mayor Carolyn Kirk held an emergency meeting Monday with city and school officials to get a better handle on the “pregnancy pact” that has made national and international headlines.
The “pact” that Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan reported to Time magazine has not been verified by any other sources, and Kirk said it will remain under investigation.
“We are seeking to understand whether it is based in fact or rumor,” she said to the media gathered in City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium. “The principal could not remember who told and suggested that to him.”
Before the news conference, Kirk held an emergency meeting with Jim Duggan, administrative assistant to the mayor; Jack Vondras, public health director; Amy Kamm, student assistance program director; Linda Ostolski, guidance director at the high school; Christopher Farmer, superintendent; Suzanne Egan, acting general counsel; and Greg Verga, chairman of the School Committee. Sullivan was not present in the meeting or at the press conference.
“I wasn’t comfortable with having the principal here, because I haven’t had verification of any of his statements,” Kirk said. “The information from the principal has not been verified from any other source.”
Farmer spoke with Kathleen Kingsbury, the Time magazine reporter that quoted Sullivan saying that some of the girls were intentionally becoming pregnant.
Farmer said the questions, “Was there any evidence of a pact that a group of girls were collectively intending to become pregnant?” and “Were there a group of pregnant girls who, by virtue of their common circumstance, came together to talk about supporting one another as they bring up their babies?” are two very different questions.
“The Time journalist tells me she did not distinguish between those two situations in her discussions,” Farmer said, adding, “I believe the issue of a pact has been greatly over-stated.”Moving forward
Over the next two months, the School Committee will be making policy decisions to be put in place regarding teenage pregnancy.
At present, the student health clinic does not have the authority to distribute contraceptives. Nurse Practitioner Kim Daly and Dr. Brian Orr have resigned from the clinic because they felt Addison Gilbert Hospital, which backs the clinic, would not support the distribution of contraceptives. The decision lies with the School Committee, but would need support from the hospital for the policy to be put in place.
“We are bringing in experts, research-based information, as well as examples of what works in other school districts in order to guide the School Committee to comprehensive approach that is in the best interest of Gloucester children, our families, and our community,” Kirk said.
As mayor, Kirk is a voting member of the School Committee and served on that committee for two terms prior to her election as mayor.