School district: Internal review found no ‘criminal’ behavior by arrested CHS teacher

  • Primo “Howie” Leung, 36, of Concord

Monitor staff
Published: 4/5/2019 7:17:58 PM

Concord school district officials did not report allegations of inappropriate behavior against a high school teacher to police because their investigation found no evidence of criminal behavior, school district officials say.

Primo “Howie” Leung, 36, of Concord, a special education teacher at the district’s high school, was arrested Wednesday on a felony fugitive from justice charge. He is accused by police of taking middle school students from Concord to a summer program in Massachusetts where he raped one of them.

The initial complaint against Leung that was brought to Concord school officials by several students did not contain criminal accusations, Superintendent Terri Forsten said Friday. Forsten said the district’s investigation did not find anything that “rose to the level of criminal behavior” and she forwarded the results of the investigation to the New Hampshire Department of Education.

Police started investigating Leung in February, after they were notified by the Department of Education that Leung “was allegedly having inappropriate contacts with female students,” police said.

Leung has been a teacher in the school district for nearly 13 years. He started working at Concord High School in 2016. Before that, he worked at Rundlett Middle School.

Forsten said she was unaware of any additional allegations brought against Leung during his time at the middle school, although some parents want to meet with her next week “regarding that topic.”

“I can’t speak to what was reported prior to my tenure here,” she said. Forsten is currently in her fourth year in the Concord school district. She said reports of misconduct would carry over to different administrations if a written report was made.

Forsten said the district reviewed its investigation practices before they sent a report to the state’s Department of Education.

Leung remained at the high school while police investigated until March 27, when he was put on paid administrative leave. School administration first spoke to Concord police last Wednesday, the same day Leung was informed of the criminal investigation against him.

Authorities say that Leung took a female student to the Fessenden School’s summer program and sexually assaulted her in 2015 and 2016. That abuse began when she was a student at Rundlett Middle School at the same time Leung worked there.

When Leung is extradited to Massachusetts, he will face charges of aggravated rape of a child, indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, and indecent assault and battery on a child over the age of 14 in Newton District Court.

The decision to forward the results of the school district’s investigation was made based on a code of conduct adopted by the department last November, Forsten said.

“As a superintendent, I have a duty to use (the code of ethics) to guide me if I’m considering making a report to the Department of Education,” she said.

That code includes a section that states faculty “shall maintain a professional relationship with all students, both inside and outside the educational setting, and make reasonable efforts to protect students from conditions which are harmful to their health and safety.”

Unprofessional conduct is defined as: discrimination; failure to provide appropriate supervision of students at school or school-sponsored activities; providing drugs and alcohol to students; abusing, endangering, harassing or engaging in sexual activity with a minor or any student or prior student up to 10 months after graduation; soliciting or encouraging a romantic or sexual relationship with a student; or encouraging a current or former student to engage in any illegal activity, according to the code.

Forsten said she was unable to provide the date when the district first learned about allegations against Leung, citing an ongoing investigation and advice from legal counsel. She estimated the district’s internal investigation took “a few weeks” from start to finish.

In a letter to the school community Thursday, Forsten called the situation and pending criminal case against Leung “disturbing and disheartening.”

“These allegations are despicable and sickening and are certainly not representative of the culture or the community that we work so hard to surround our students with here in the Concord School District,” she said.

At Concord High, Leung was the advisor of the Save Our Cold Kids (SOCK) club, which organizes volunteer projects to help aid homeless children and their families in the local community.

During the summers, Leung has worked at the Fessenden School’s Summer English Explorers (ELL) Program, an overnight boarding program in West Newton, Mass., for boys and girls ages 9 to 15. Leung started with the program in 1998 and is now its director, according to Fessenden’s website.

Despite the charges against him, Leung remains an employee of the Concord School District.

(Staff writer Alyssa Dandrea contributed to this report. Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, can drews@cmonitor.c o m or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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