Over the past few days, we have been criticized harshly by some in the media for providing recommendations for a Windham High School student (Tyrell Gullatt) who has been charged with crimes involving sexual misconduct. In an effort to help bring the matter to closure, we are writing now to provide our perspective on these events.

As educators, we have certain obligations to all of our students: We must do everything in our power to keep them safe and help them thrive; we must judge them based upon what we know about them, not on rumors and accusations by others; and we must respect their rights and treat them fairly.

That is what we attempted to do in this case. When we were informed that a student was being investigated for inappropriate conduct with individuals outside of our school, we immediately established a safety plan to ensure that, if these accusations were true, all of our students would be safe.

We had limited information about the allegations and did not jump to any conclusions as to the student’s guilt or innocence. Instead, we respected his fundamental right to the presumption of innocence. We trust in our legal system to make that determination.

When we were asked to provide letters of recommendation for this student, we accurately related the first-hand information we know about the student, who, while at Windham High School, has been a model student: diligent, hardworking and respected by peers and school staff alike.

We have been asked whether, knowing the media firestorm that resulted, we would have done things differently if we had it to do over again. In a recent column, Portland Press Herald staff writer Bill Nemitz suggested that it was our actions that drew attention to this matter, thereby making it more traumatic to the students involved.

If that is true, then yes, we would have done things differently. Our No. 1 priority is, and always will be, to act in the best interest of each and every student at Windham High School.

Chris Howell

principal

Rich Drummond

athletic director

Matt Perkins

coach

Windham High School

Windham