ROCHESTER - Rochester Schools today announced that the findings of an independent administrative review commissioned by the Rochester School District following an incident involving a staff member at Rochester Middle School has resulted in their termination.
According the release, on Feb. 12, Superintendent Kyle Repucci was made aware of a video circulating on Facebook of an incident that occurred at the Rochester Middle School on Jan. 31. In the video, a teacher at the Rochester Middle School can be seen screaming at a student and getting close to the student's face during a verbal altercation inside a classroom.
The investigation was carried out by the firm Comprehensive Investigations and Consulting (CIC).
Upon learning of this incident, Repucci immediately ordered the launch of an administrative review, which is consistent with the district's policies and procedures. Additionally, the employee in the video was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
As a result of the administrative review, CIC determined that the employee in the video violated both Rochester School District policies and New Hampshire Department of Education rules governing teacher-student conduct -- in what CIC determined to be a departure from their otherwise consistently positive performance reviews.
The report determined that this was likely an isolated incident and not a pattern of behavior. Based on the circumstances of the incident, CIC recommended progressive discipline, as outlined in the district's collective bargaining agreement with the Rochester Federation of Teachers.
However, CIC also determined that the staff member did not obtain proper certification to teach in New Hampshire. While the employee is licensed in another state, the license is not recognized in New Hampshire and cannot be transferred to New Hampshire. As CIC found that the lack of licensure cannot be easily remedied, the report ultimately concluded that the employee should no longer work in the Rochester Public Schools.
The Rochester School District will -- in accordance with the recommendations in the review -- undertake deeper scrutiny of future applications for employment to ensure candidates and new hires are properly credentialed. Additionally, the Rochester School District has completed a review of all employees' certifications through which they ensured they are proper and current.
The Rochester School District will likewise work to refine its policies and procedures around initial reporting of similar incidents after CIC found that building administrators did not always fulfill their obligations under the state's Duty to Report statute. The Duty to Report statute requires a school superintendent to report an incident like the one that occurred on Jan. 31 to the state.
By failing to inform the central office of the incident for 13 days, CIC found that the building administration did not adhere to the district's disciplinary process, which impaired the district's ability to report the incident to the Department of Education in a timely manner. The district, at CIC's recommendation, will work to better articulate its policies and procedures to ensure there are no gaps in reviewing and reporting similar incidents in the future.
"This review is an important first step in helping our district identify areas where we must improve, and beginning the process of making those improvements," Repucci said. "We are committing to doing the work necessary to correct any shortcomings in our hiring process, as well as improve and more thoroughly define our policies and procedures."
To view the CIC report click here.