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As police investigate Concord teacher’s online conduct, high school principal says student safety is top priority 

Monitor staff
Published: 12/23/2020 3:56:27 PM

Concord school administrators are asking families to maintain their trust in the school district amid an ongoing Concord police investigation into a Concord High School teacher accused of “inappropriate online solicitation.”

In a letter to parents Wednesday morning, Concord High School Principal Mike Reardon said he, Superintendent Kathleen Murphy and Title IX Compliance Officer Karen Fischer-Anderson met with the teacher on Monday and placed the person on administrative leave “as a result of that meeting.”

Murphy informed the public of the accusations and the teacher’s suspension later that day.

The school was first alerted to the possible criminal behavior on Wednesday when a former Concord High student spoke to an assistant principal and said a current faculty member was involved with online solicitation. The school notified the police and the Department of Education the same day, school and police officials said.

Police quickly served a warrant to seize the teacher’s computer and cell phone, and issued a no-trespassing order for school property, Reardon said.

The exact nature of the accusation remains vague, including if current students were involved.

“At this point right now, we’re still trying to figure out what exactly – what the solicitations were,” Deputy Police Chief John Thomas said. “If they were of a minor or if they were of an adult.”

The school district has locked the teacher out of all digital systems, and barred the employee from any contact with students.

Reardon said he hosted a remote meeting with Concord High School staff Tuesday afternoon to discuss the alleged behavior.

Despite the “deeply unsettling” accusations, Reardon asked the school community to retain faith in the school’s dedicated faculty. Concord High teachers are “individuals of integrity and decency, commitment and talent,” who “remain worthy of your trust,” Reardon said.

“These events call into question the most fundamental assumption you as a parent – or, I hope, as a student – could possess: that the adults you entrust your children to, the teachers, advisers and coaches you as a student interact with on a daily basis, are people of the utmost integrity, decency and trustworthiness,” Reardon wrote. “I am at pains to ask each CHS family not to make the error of conflating our superb faculty with the tawdry events outlined above.”

The investigation follows two prominent situations of inappropriate behavior at Concord High School, Reardon noted in his letter. In November, a school portrait photographer employed by an outside company hired by the school, approached a high school student with a proposal for a “modeling project” and handed a business card with a link to pornographic material. That photographer was fired by the photography company and escorted from campus, Reardon noted.

The new allegation also comes in the shadow of the charges against Howie Leung, a former Concord High teacher awaiting trial in Massachusetts for allegedly sexually assaulting a former student. The school’s investigation into Leung’s behavior began two years ago this month.

However, both incidents this school year were communicated quickly to the community. In the case of Leung, previous school officials allowed him to stay on the job for three and a half months, despite reports from students that he was seen kissing a female student in a car outside of school.

“Our students’ safety and well-being remain our most important, foundational task, which is why the latter two events were addressed so rapidly,” Reardon said.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at 369-3307, edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)

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