Reporter files charges against school principal over attack
WASHINGTON D.C.– Students and staff at a Washington, D.C. charter school allegedly assaulted a reporter from The Washington Times while she was trying to cover a story, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. The reporter’s notebook was reportedly stolen at that time, according to police.
School staff members later assaulted a photographer from The Washington Times and police officers, who returned to the school with the reporter to investigate her complaint, the police department said.
Susan Ferrechio, the reporter, and Cliff Owen, the photographer, filed separate complaints with the police. The U.S. Attorney’s office and the Metropolitan Police Department are conducting investigations into the incident. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl will interview all the witnesses who are willing to speak, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A grand jury will hear testimony in mid-December.
Ferrechio had written stories in the past on the Marcus Garvey Public Charter School, a semi-public school set up under a local school board policy to encourage private experiments in educational reform.
Ferrechio said she entered the school through a door that had been propped open, reported to the school office and identified herself as a reporter. Ferrechio was not able to contact school officials prior to her visit to inform them that she was coming, she added.
When she arrived, Ferrechio said she asked to see the principal, Mary A.T. Anigbo. A secretary told a student to escort the reporter to the room where the principal was teaching, she said. As Ferrechio walked with the student, she asked him questions.
The reporter and student were called back to the office, where Anigbo soon arrived and asked to see Ferrechio’s legal pad. The reporter said she then tried to leave, and Anigbo grabbed her legal pad. The principal, the secretary, an unidentified man and some students then began shoving, hitting and kicking Ferrechio. The reporter said she repeatedly asked for her notebook back, according to the Times report.
Later that day, staff members attacked Owen and took his camera after he started taking pictures of a person Ferrechio identified as one of her attackers, Ferrichio said. Police later retrieved Owen’s camera and gave it back to him, she added.
Anigbo could not be reached for comment. However, according to reports in The Washington Post, Anigbo said that Ferrechio did not have an appointment with her, had no business at the school, and should not have interviewed a student without parental permission. The legal pad Ferrechio was carrying belonged to Anigbo, the principal claimed. Ferrechio said the pad contained notes taken over several months, and could not have been taken from the principal’s office.
In mid-November Alan Etter of WTOP radio reported that he was assaulted by a group of high school students outside another district school, McKinley High School. Etter was at the school to report on two stabbings which had occured the day before, he said.