ROCKPORT — The Rockport Middle School guidance counselor accused of fondling at least two students years ago while working at the Landmark School in Beverly has been placed on indefinite administrative leave with pay, pending investigations into the allegations, said Rockport Schools’ Superintendent Robert Liebow.
Liebow and the school’s lawyer met Monday morning with Howard J. Kasper, who has worked for Rockport schools since 2000 but worked at Landmark for 23 years prior to that, to ask him questions as part of the investigation, which has been ongoing since the Rockport school was notified July 24 of the allegations against Kasper at Landmark dating to 1979 and 1984.
The school system officially placed Kasper on leave as of this morning.
Liebow, in a telephone interview with the Times, emphasized that the Rockport schools’ action implies neither guilt nor innocence.
“There’s been no determination of his guilt or innocence. The investigation is continuing,” Liebow said.
In the wake of the school’s decision, however, some Rockport parents have formed a group called Landmark Inquiry and plan to host a meeting for any concerned Rockporters to discuss the allegations against and investigation of Kasper, as well as the school’s action, according to Adriana Tulian, who spoke for the group in a telephone interview today.
“I think there’s a lot of outspoken people that are going to come, and they’re going to have a lot to say and have a lot of questions,” Tulian said. “It’s important that people feel comfortable discussing it.”
The meeting at the Rockport Police Station will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday and all are welcome, Tulian said.
Two former Landmark School students and the alleged victims of Kasper — David Breed and Brant Davis — said today they will be unable to attend the meeting to help address concerns from Rockport parents, Breed said tonight. But Breed said, he will be willing to participate in the meeting via a phone call or other electronic communication means from New Hampshire, where he will be attending a family event.
In a visit to the Times earlier today, Breed and Brant said they are working to oust former Landmark staff members — Kasper and at least one other — whom they say are guilty of crimes against children and to help Landmark move past a bad situation, which they say the Landmark School has long ignored.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to remove these people from public schools and then to help reform Landmark School,” Breed said.
The Landmark School, Massachusetts State Police, and Rockport schools are all investigating Kasper over accusations that he inappropriately touched two students, in 1979 and 1984, when he was working as assistant dean at Landmark, a private, residential school for learning-disabled students.
Naomi R. Stonberg, attorney for the Rockport Public Schools, said that, when Kasper applied to Rockport, Landmark gave no signs that Kasper had been accused of sexual misconduct or anything of the like. Also, nothing in Kasper’s file suggested any allegations, she said.
“There was absolutely nothing, and we check references very carefully,” Stonberg said.
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Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.