EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 5, 2014

Pinkerton headmaster apologizes for delay

Media, not school, broke news of charges against teacher

DERRY — Some Pinkerton Academy parents are unhappy with the school’s delayed notification about a teacher’s alleged assault of a female student.

Yesterday evening, Pinkerton officials offered an apology for the delay — in contrast to its previous position.

Headmaster Mary Anderson emailed a letter to parents shortly after 1 p.m. yesterday, five days after the teacher was terminated, a day after police issued a press release about his arrest. It was the first time the school had communicated with parents about the incident and a teacher’s termination.

David Howes, 61, of Windham taught building construction at the school for about five years. On May 22, according to five complaints, Howes allegedly touched a 15-year-old girl inappropriately. The alleged incident took place in his classroom after classes had ended for the day.

Police said both the school and the alleged victim notified them, but did not say when. Five days later, Pinkerton placed Howes on administrative leave, then fired him three days after that.

Parents and some community members expressed concern Tuesday after the story broke in the news and they had not heard anything from Pinkerton.

School spokesman Chip Underhill said late Tuesday the school was “in the process” of notifying the school community.

That notice came in the form of a letter yesterday from Anderson, who will retire at the end of the month.

On Facebook, parents reacted to the delayed notification. Some said their children had been talking about it for days.

“Innocent or not, he is teaching kids and if you have kids that attend Pinkerton, you should be notified that they have fired a teacher and he has been charged with five counts of assault,” Trista Kort wrote Tuesday afternoon.

In an email yesterday evening, Underhill said the school received comments — positive and otherwise — from parents after Anderson’s letter was emailed. Many questioned why they heard the news from the media, not the school, he said.

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