NORTH ATTLEBORO — North Attleboro school officials are nearing the end of a nearly nine-week investigation into a North Attleboro coach and physical education teacher accused of orchestrating taunts against an Attleboro High School basketball player in February.
Jason Feid has been accused of organizing an effort to taunt Attleboro senior Julia Strachan during a Feb. 20 girls’ basketball game at Attleboro High School.
Feid is freshmen football and high school and middle school spring track coach for North Attleboro and a physical education teacher at the middle school.
He said he was at the game solely in support of his daughter, Julia Feid, who plays on the North Attleboro basketball team.
But the game took a sour turn as North Attleboro students began targeting 18-year-old Strachan with chants of “traitor” every time she touched the ball — a total of 14 times in the second half, a DoubleACS video of the game shows.
Strachan, who lives in North Attleboro, transferred to Attleboro High at the beginning of her junior year after her father, Michael Strachan, took a football coaching job at AHS.
Michael Strachan said he launched an investigation into the incident with the North Attleboro school district only after a North Attleboro student told him Feid had allegedly sent a text to students encouraging the taunting.
Strachan said his only concern is figuring out what happened to incite the chants against his daughter.
Though the investigation began in February, Strachan said he wouldn’t want the district to rush through the case to hurry to a judgement.
“It’s in their capable hands,” he said Monday. “I left it with North Attleboro and I’m just waiting to hear back from them.”
North Attleboro Superintendent Scott Holcomb could not confirm which students or employees were involved in the case pending the ongoing investigation, but told The Sun Chronicle Monday that the district is nearing the end of that review.
The district is following procedures laid out in the Bullying Prevention Plan policy adopted in 2014, Holcomb said.
The policy requires claims of bullying or harassment to be documented through an incident report and forwarded to administrators, who are then to interview the alleged target first, followed by any witnesses and finally the alleged aggressor of the incident.
School officials must then determine whether the incident qualified as bullying or harassment, charging the aggressors with consequences if the investigation proves fruitful.
If a staff member is involved, the employee is entitled to representation as laid out in their employee contracts, Holcomb said. Potential consequences against staff are confidential based on that contract.
The district defines bullying as repeated written, verbal, physical or electronic expression or act that causes physical or emotional harm to a person or their property.
Earlier this month, Feid said he was cleared in investigations by the North Attleboro High School administration and Assistant Superintendent Lori McEwen, but said Strachan had appealed the decision to Holcomb’s office with threat of a civil lawsuit if the matter is not resolved.
Strachan said he still has questions about halftime footage from the game, where he believes something may have occurred to encourage the taunting against his daughter. Before the half, there was only one chant of “traitor” by a single student, but the taunting became a more concerted effort following halftime.
In footage from the game reviewed by The Sun Chronicle, Feid can be seen pulling out his phone during halftime, typing or looking at something on it, glancing across the bleachers to the student section and gesturing for students to check their phones.
If Feid was indeed texting students, he could also be in violation of the district’s technology policy.
The policy prohibits staff members from communicating with students on social media sites or by cell phone.
“All contact with students should be through the NASD email, Connect Ed school web site and telephone system,” the policy reads.
Holcomb clarified Monday that the policy does apply to coaches — but there is a minor loophole.
Coaches are allowed to use a special application on their cell phone to send a team-wide text message in case of last minute game changes or practice cancellations. The application sends the same message to all members of the team, including Athletic Director Kurt Kummer.
Individual contact with one or a select few team members is prohibited except through school channels, Holcomb confirmed, and even then the athletic director must be copied to the message.
If Feid is determined to have communicated with students via text message at the game, he could be penalized for that.
The district policy says staff who violate the guidelines could face restricted technology access or other disciplinary action, including termination of employment.