Advocate to begin work at Concord High in wake of Leung arrest  

  • The tip box located in the hallways at Concord High School on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 12/5/2019 5:14:48 PM

An advocate trained to support those impacted by issues like domestic violence and sexual assault will work in Concord’s schools twice a week, thanks to a grant received by the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire. 

The advocate will likely start work in February and will spend most of his or her time at Concord High School, with a few hours spent at Rundlett Middle School, said crisis center Executive Director Jen Pierson.

A primary focus of the job will be helping the community heal in the aftermath of the April arrest of long-time special education teacher Howie Leung, who is accused of raping a former Concord student. 

“Whether it’s a student or a staff member who went through this situation with Howie and trusted him and thought he was their friend, I know it’s sometimes difficult for people who were close to Howie to talk about it or process the situation,” Pierson said.

“We can be that confidential, safe zone for teachers or anyone who needs to talk without having to worry about any potential repercussions. It will be a place to process with someone who is an expert on grooming behaviors that Howie exhibited,” she continued. 

After Leung’s arrest, the Concord School Board hired an independent attorney to investigate district officials’ handling of student reports of misconduct by Leung. Several students came forward saying they complained about his behavior in 2014 and 2018, and not enough was done to prevent his misconduct.  

Steve Bennett, a lawyer hired to help complete the investigation, said Leung was an expert manipulator who fooled those around him. Leung was hailed as a charismatic educator who won awards for his work. However, community members have said in hindsight, he showed signs of grooming behavior for years before his arrest. 

For example, he often allowed a select group of students to eat lunch in his classroom, he gave students gifts, posted photos of students on social media, wrote personal letters to them and drove them in his car.

Pierson said teachers and other community members will become better at identifying and reporting grooming behavior with more training. The crisis center is planning a number of training sessions for Concord High staff on warning signs of abuse. 

Pierson said the advocate will have time available where students or faculty can drop in if they need to talk. Advocates also have special training in issues of stalking, human trafficking and child abuse. 

“It really just gives the students or anyone seeking support the ability to have a conversation about what’s going on in their life,” she said. 

“I think that having this advocacy on site will be able to provide the community something they didn't have before, and that is a way to talk,” she added. 

Additionally, the advocate will help implement curriculum in health classes on healthy relationships, Pierson said. 

Pierson said the crisis center is in the interviewing process for the position and hope to have it filled sometime in the next few weeks. The program is being funded through a $33,000 grant from the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services. 


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