GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 4, 2012

Counselor staying on payroll

Kasper will be a consultant for Rockport schools until 2015

By Marjorie Nesin Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — ROCKPORT — Rockport School District has reached an agreement with the middle school guidance counselor accused of sexual misconduct with young boys at a prior teaching job.

Howard J. Kasper has been on leave with pay from his counseling job pending an investigation of the allegations. Under the agreement, the district will continue to employ Kasper until Jan, 31, 2015, at half employment, effective today, according to an electronic letter sent to parents and members of the school community. The letter was sent through the district’s server after a School Committee meeting Wednesday night.

However, Superintendent Robert E. Liebow said in the letter that Kasper is on leave until his Jan. 31, 2015, resignation and has submitted an “irrevocable letter of resignation” to be effective on Jan. 31, 2015.

The agreement, which Liebow considers the district’s “final resolution,” was proposed by Kasper, according to Liebow. The decision came after Kasper was placed on indefinite administrative leave with pay, on Aug. 7, pending the investigation.

Under the final resolution, Kasper will work as a consultant to the schools for special projects related to the guidance department during his leave of absence.

The district’s Wednesday night letter to parents did not specify any results of the investigation, but did state that no one in the Rockport community had stepped forward with allegations against Kasper.

“We conducted an extensive investigation related to these serious charges as did state law enforcement officials and personnel from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” Liebow wrote in the letter to the school community. “No one has come forward with any similar claims of inappropriate conduct during the 12-year period that Mr. Kasper has been employed with the Rockport Public Schools.”

The school’s formal investigation around Kasper began in early August, after two men speaking in a Boston Globe story alleged Kasper had fondled and inappropriately touched them during their time as students at Beverly’s Landmark School, a school for students with learning disabilities and dyslexia.

One student alleged Kasper fondled him in 1979, another said he was inappropriately touched by the man in 1984. Kasper left his job after 23 years at Landmark to begin work at Rockport Middle School in 2000.

Rockport School District will begin advertising immediately for a middle school guidance counselor who will serve as a permanent replacement, said Liebow, who hopes to fill the job by the beginning of November.

In the meantime, David Curley, who returned from retirement to fill the guidance counselor role at the middle school at the beginning of the school year, will continue to hold the position.

Liebow offered the school’s thanks for Curley’s “expertise and calm presence,” to Kasper for his “years of dedicated service,” and to the parents and Rockport schools community.

“I would like to finally express my thanks to everyone in the Rockport community for their patience, understanding and support as we moved toward an appropriate resolution of this difficult and sensitive matter,” Liebow wrote.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.