The principal of a Massachusetts school was under siege Wednesday for a report that he had canceled the school's annual honors ceremony because it was unfair to pupils who weren't getting any awards.
David Fabrizio, principal of Ipswich Middle School in Ipswich, told NBC News that — contrary to a local news report that quickly spread nationally — he had, in fact, expanded the ceremony.
High-achieving pupils will still get their awards at a special ceremony, just like always, he said. All he did, he said, was move Honors Night to Honors Day, so all of the pupils could take part.
It turns out that only children receiving awards could attend Honors Night, where they got to hear messages from inspirational speakers. By opening the ceremony up to all pupils, "the kids who need the inspirational speakers" can be there, Fabrizio said.
Fabrizio said the school had been inundated with complaints from parents and even people outside the region who'd read the inaccurate report, which was picked up by websites across the country and at least one national TV network. He said he been the target of particularly harsh personal criticism.
In a statement he sent later to NBC News, Fabrizio wrote:
Ipswich Middle School is dedicated to high achievement in every facet of our students' lives.
We did not cancel honors recognition as erroneously reported on FOX News in Boston. We changed our Honors Night from an exclusive ceremony at night to an all inclusive ceremony during the day with the entire school present. During this ceremony we will honor those who have excelled academically, athletically, in the Arts and in the Related Arts.
Any reports to the contrary are incorrect.