WESTBROOK – Westbrook High School’s assistant principal, who was criticized recently by a student who said he failed to respond to her complaints about bullying, is being investigated by the school department and has been put on paid administrative leave, according to Superintendent Marc Gousse.

Assistant Principal Howard Jack’s leave began about a week ago and will continue indefinitely, Gousse said, “pending the outcome and findings of an internal investigation specific to a school-related matter.”

He wouldn’t say whether Jack’s leave was related to the bullying made public through the media by high school junior Victoria Pabst.

The girl’s mother, Terri Pabst, said Gousse and Human Resources Director Martha Sumner told her that school officials were conducting an investigation of Jack that stemmed from her daughter’s complaints.

Jack said in an email Wednesday night that he had no comment.

Jack was the intended recipient of a letter in which Victoria Pabst described the persistent bullying she endured from her classmates in school and through Facebook, text messages and Twitter.

She described school as feeling like “the most dangerous place” and pleaded for action.

“Bystanders are just as worse as the bully and if the school system doesn’t step up and make some changes aren’t they just bystanders too?” she wrote.

She dropped the letter, along with 50 pages of online taunts and insults, in Jack’s mailbox last month.

After days went by and he didn’t acknowledge that he had read it, Pabst said, she took the letter to a teacher, and it made its way up to other administrators.

The letter captured the public’s attention when Pabst read it on WLOB radio’s morning show hosted by Ray Richardson, who has a mutual friend with her family.

Soon after, she shared it with other media outlets, including the Portland Press Herald.

Pabst said Wednesday that since she spoke on the radio, the face-to-face to bullying has subsided, though some online commentary about the situation has continued.

At the recommendation of the school department, she said, she is finishing the last two weeks of classes, which end Friday, from home.

After spending the summer working two jobs and attending a camp through her church, Pabst is optimistic that she will return to an improved school environment for her senior year.

“I have a lot of teachers who really have my back, so I’m not worried about it,” she said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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