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Parents question inquiry into CHS teacher accused of sexual assault

Monitor staff
Published: 6/10/2019 10:34:05 PM

Concord parents asked for clarity Monday on the school district’s investigation into high school teacher Howie Leung, who was later charged with sexually assaulting a former middle school student.

“I understand that this is a very disturbing and difficult situation for all of us, but I’m still mad. I’m still hurt. I’m still angry. I’m still confused. I don’t know what has transpired and what should have transpired,” said Melissa Hinebauch, the mother of three children during a meeting focused on the district’s sexual abuse and harassment policies. “I just want you to know that it’s been difficult to sleep at night knowing that my child and a number of my child’s friends spent a great deal of time with this person and that somehow this situation ended up in the way it did.”

“I think you really need to do a good job of rebuilding trust with the community, especially with the parents and with the children, there needs to be a lot more outreach,” Hinebauch told administrators and school board members.

School Board President Jen Patterson said the board is hoping to examine its policies related to staff ethics, sexual harassment and abuse, and how to report instances of suspected abuse throughout the summer with the pub lic’s help. The committee’s next meeting is July 8.

“It’s really important to look at what policies we have, and what policies are out there that we may not have and if there’s a way of identifying gaps in a policy level what we want to fill,” Patterson said.

Several members of the public spoke, mostly parents of special education children, about their concerns for children who may be vulnerable to predators. Leung, who is accused of sexually assaulting a former student at Rundlett Middle School and the overnight Fessenden School in Newton, Mass., a five-week boarding camp for girls and boys ages 9 to 15 where he was the director. In Concord, Leung worked in the special education department.

“I ask that as you workshop these policies if you could keep in mind that children on IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) and 504s are at an elevated risk of victimization,” said parent Sarah Sadowski. “I’m here tonight really hoping that will be explicitly called out in whatever the policy looks like.”

Amy Girouard – wife of school board member Chuck Crush – whose daughter receives special education services at Rundlett, said it’s terrifying to send her child to school wondering if she will be safe.

“We in the public need you to understand that we are entrusting our children with you and they need to be safe, and we need to know that if you or anyone, whether it is a custodian, someone who works in dietary, a parapro fessional, a teacher, an administrative assistant needs to be a mandated reporter,” she said. “Your reporting policies and procedures need to change and the culture of the district needs to change. We need a culture that truly does say, ‘If I see something that does not feel right, this needs to be reported.’ ”

Girouard said it’s important that people in the district know how to look for signs that a child has been exposed to trauma that should be reported, especially with students who may not be able to speak up for themselves.

Gina Cannon, the parent an incoming freshman at Concord High School, said she wants to see more involvement from the community on how to work out these issues.

“People need to be here. It’s the communities responsibility to get involved and give their opinion and work with you guys,” she said.

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