GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 24, 2012

Rockport schools seek counseling sub

By Marjorie Nesin Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The Rockport school system is preparing to hire a new substitute middle school guidance counselor to fill the position formerly held by Howard J. Kasper, until this summer, when allegations against him arose at a private school where he worked prior to Rockport.

Kasper has been on leave with pay from his counseling job pending an investigation of the allegations of sexual misconduct with young boys at the Landmark School in Beverly in the 1970s and ’80s. And, under an Oct. 4 agreement reached with the district, Rockport schools will continue to employ Kasper at half time — and half pay — until Jan. 31, 2015. Kasper has, however, committed to resigning as of Jan. 31, 2015, and has submitted an irrevocable letter of resignation.

Rockport schools Superintendent Robert Liebow said Tuesday the school is advertising for a long-term substitute guidance counselor and preparing to interview candidates who would work until the end of the school year, when the school will then advertise the permanent position.

“Your pool of candidates might be stronger in the spring,” Liebow said. “Obviously, if we found somebody strong then they’d be an ideal candidate and we’d encourage them to apply again in the spring.”

The money for the positions will come partly from Kasper’s former pay, and from other corners of the budget — such as the revenue from some 30 additional school choice students now attending school for whom the district had not budgeted revenue.

The school’s current advertisement for the position does not specify a pay rate, according to Liebow. He said the employee’s pay will depend on factors like level of experience and personal qualifications.

”It just really depends on who we hire,” Liebow said. “There may be additional costs and there might not be additional costs, but nothing will be taken away from the kids.”

Former guidance counselor David Curley had filled in as middle school guidance counselor during the school’s investigation of Kasper’s background. But, because of Curley’s retirement status, he had to finish his substitution weeks ago. At that time, Judy Sheehan, retired from the guidance position at Gloucester’s O’Malley Middle School, took the temporary position and is now serving in that role on a short-term basis, as well.

During his paid leave, Kasper will work on administrative research-based guidance projects from home, according to Liebow.

”He’ll work outside of the walls of school, and he won’t be working directly with kids,” Liebow said. “(He’s) doing things that a guidance person just wouldn’t (have time to) get to in the nature of their job.”

Middle and High School Principal Philip Conrad assigned Kasper the first project in his new part-time role. Kasper will be writing a middle school guidance curriculum, and outlining a format for guidance counselors to use in the future that encompasses the school’s “understanding by design” concept, which allows students to learn at their own pace, according to Conrad.

“What he’s doing is taking all of the things we’ve been doing for years, and writing that in the understanding by design format,” Conrad said.

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