An investigation into a former employee at Bucksport High School has concluded that allegations of past inappropriate behavior by that person are more likely than not to be true, according to the local school superintendent.
James Boothby, superintendent of the Bucksport School Department, said the department hired Bangor lawyer Sarah Newell this past summer to investigate complaints made on social media that the former staff member had pursued or initiated inappropriate relationships with students at the school. Boothby declined to identify the former employee but said they have not worked for the school department for the past few years.
Boothby said Newell was not able to interview anyone who claimed to have been pressured into a physical relationship with the former staffer, but she did interview Bucksport High School officials and some former students, one of whom said he had rejected the former staffer’s advances.
Newell also spoke to relatives of the former staffer, but never met with or questioned the former employee, Boothby said. The former staffer was unavailable for interviews because of chronic “medical reasons” that continue to make such an interview impractical, he said.
“She found the allegations are likely to be true,” Boothby said. “However, it is not definitive. We have no victims who have come forward.”
Newell also investigated whether school officials had dropped the ball by not looking into the complaints while the staffer still worked at the high school, Boothby said. She found that the school did not mishandle the situation because no one ever filed a complaint or brought the allegations to the attention of other school staff or administrators.
Boothby said that victims in such situations often do not come forward with complaints because they feel that they won’t be taken seriously, or the accused person will seem more credible, which he believes is the case in this situation.
“It’s unfortunate, but I understand,” Boothby said.
Boothby said that because of the lack of a formal complaint, and the inability of the former staffer to be interviewed, officials have no information about any one specific incident that could be forwarded to police for a criminal investigation.
But he emphasized that the school department has a policy of formally looking into all such complaints it receives. All school department staff members are trained each year about what sort of interactions with students are appropriate and what are not, he said.
Even if an alleged incident does not rise to the level of possible criminal activity, Boothby said, he has the authority to terminate an employee who is reasonably suspected of violating the department’s personnel policies.
“We don’t ignore these things,” the superintendent said. “If there are concerns, bring them forward, and we will investigate them.”