HAVERHILL — The Haverhill High girls soccer coach who is also a teacher at the school has been placed on paid administrative leave, School Superintendent Margaret Marotta said.
Fred Tarbox — who since 2007 has coached the girls varsity soccer team and taught physical education at the school — was placed on leave March 18 by Haverhill High Principal Glenn Burns, Marotta said.
She said because this is a personnel matter, she cannot discuss the reason why Tarbox was placed on leave.
"When we place someone on paid leave, we conduct an investigation, which involves representatives from the school system and the (teachers) union, who will look into why he was placed on leave," Marotta said.
When contacted by The Eagle-Tribune, Tarbox said he was asked not to comment until the situation is resolved. When asked who advised him not to comment, Tarbox said he had nothing more to say at this time.
Tarbox's leave comes several months after a group of Haverhill High alumni organized to demand the school be investigated for a long-existing social culture allowing inappropriate interaction between staff and students. That demand came as a male teacher at the school resigned during an investigation into alleged inappropriate behavior with female students.
As news of the resignation was made public, Marotta said the investigation "concerning allegations about the culture at Haverhill High made by young women" was continuing and would extend several years prior to the administrations of both her and current Haverhill High Principal Burns. Marotta also said the investigation would examine the conduct of school personnel other than the teacher who resigned. The probe was looking into Haverhill High's social culture in terms of interaction between staff and students, Marotta said.
When asked whether the situation that led to Tarbox being placed on leave emerged from the investigation into the conduct of school personnel, Marotta said this is the first time Tarbox's name has come to her attention. She said his name "did not come up during that investigation to my knowledge."
Marotta said that as a result of the Haverhill High investigation, the school provided professional development and training for teachers. Experts sent by state education officials provided school staff with training on how to properly interact with students in various situations, and also how to provide students with ways to express their concerns.
Marotta noted there are many reasons why a teacher would be placed on paid administrative leave.
"Those circumstances can include any kind of violation in the employee handbook, including an array of things that fall under the category of conduct unbecoming of a teacher, as a blanket term," she said.
Tarbox's work as a physical education teacher will be covered by either a substitute teacher or by teachers using their class prep time to fill in, Marotta said. Those teachers will receive additional pay for the extra work, she said.
Tarbox's leave has not affected the girls soccer team because the team is not currently playing. Girls soccer is played in the fall.
Reporter Allison Corneau contributed to this story.