DEDHAM – Cohasset Public Schools and an arbitrator are suing the state’s Department of Children and Families and several of its investigators to force them to testify in a wrongful termination case brought by a fired principal in the wake of the Jeffrey Knight scandal.
Former Cohasset Middle-High School Principal Carolyn Connolly took Cohasset to court to fight her 2018 firing. The district said the firing was in part due to failing to tell the police or the Department of Children and Families about a sexual assault allegation against Knight from a student, as required by law.
The investigators were served subpoenas compelling them to testify in the arbitration in November, but none of them showed up. Attorneys for the Department of Children and Families told Cohasset attorneys the investigators can’t be compelled to testify or turn over records, according to the lawsuit.
After the school committee fired her on April 8, 2019, Connolly contested her dismissal through arbitration, as allowed by state law.
Read the lawsuit: Read Cohasset’s lawsuit to force DCF investigators to testify
Cohasset police said that in 2018 a 14-year-old victim told Connolly and others that her teacher Jeffrey Knight had inappropriately touched her in class, pressing himself into her. It was months before police were told about the behavior.
Connolly, in a district court trial against Knight, testified that the victim and her mother only made her aware that Knight made her uncomfortable, but did not go into specifics in the 2018 meeting. Connolly said she spoke to Knight about the meeting and didn’t follow up with other students about any incident until the mother contacted her again months later.
Connolly said she wasn’t told about sexual assault accusations until May, just before she notified Cohasset police. As a school official, Connolly is required by law to alert the state of any suspected abuse.
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Knight was sentenced in December to at least one year in jail after a Quincy District Court jury found him guilty of inappropriately touching the student when she was 13 and 14 years old.
Knight faces additional charges in Norfolk County Superior Court after a separate student accused him of inappropriately touching her in 2014 and 2015.
Neither Connolly’s lawyer, nor the state’s Department of Children and Families responded to phone calls seeking comment for this article.
See our past coverage and investigation into Jeffrey Knight
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Joe Difazio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jldifazio.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Cohasset, DCF, principal tied up in court amid Jeffrey Knight scandal