Sources say teachers were drinking at BHS after play
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — On Monday, May 1, four teachers will return to Belmont High School after being placed on administrative leave, Shaker Regional School District Superintendent Michael Tursi reported this week, but school officials have declined to shed light on the incident that led to their discipline.
The circumstances of the teachers' discipline has been a closely guarded secret by administrative officials in the school district, but multiple sources indicated that the teachers were caught drinking alcohol at the high school during a private celebration after the Belmont High School drama department's production of "Footloose — The Musical."
Two independent sources confirmed the incident and named the teachers, but The Laconia Daily Sun was not able to confirm the teachers' identities and so decided not to publish the names.
The incident allegedly occurred in late March, as the musical reached its final performance.
On April 5, when asked about the discipline, Superintendent Michael Tursi said it was a personnel issue and would not be discussed. Earlier this month, high school principal David Williams also declined to comment on the incident. Brian McNabb, who has served as negotiations chairperson for the teachers' union, the Shaker Regional Education Association, did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Multiple attempts to contact the teachers who were placed on administrative leave were unsuccessful.
But on Monday, April 24, Tursi published a bulletin labeled "Teachers" on the Belmont High School online bulletin board, at http://bhsbulletin.blogspot.com/2017/04/teachers.html.
"Dear Shaker Regional Families and Staff," the bulletin reads, "As many of you are well aware and some of you maybe not as much, four high school teachers have been out on administrative leave for the past several weeks. There have been many rumors surrounding this. I do know that many of you have expressed your frustration in the lack of information from me and/or others regarding this matter. This frustration is felt by all involved. Please know that we have specific laws and policies that we must follow when it comes to sharing information regarding personnel matters. It is my obligation to follow these laws and policies in protecting the confidentiality of our employees. The School Board also has specific laws, policies and procedures that they must follow when determining the outcome of such personnel matters when these matters are brought to their level."
The bulletin continued, "At this point, with the School Board's involvement, the four teachers will be returning to BHS on Monday, May 1st. I know that this decision will prompt a wide range of emotions. Please be assured that I will do my best to lead us through this range of emotions as we move forward from this matter. It is always my goal to make sure we do not lose sight of the great things that are happening in our schools and community, even when we are experiencing trying times. I am confident that we, together, will be able to focus on the bright side and bounce back when we encounter obstacles such as this. My hope is that we never lose sight of the fact that Shaker is a great place to live, learn, work and play."
On Friday, Tursi did not return a call seeking comment about the bulletin announcement.
BHS Drama was scheduled to present "Footloose — The Musical" in the Belmont High School cafeteria Thursday through Saturday, March 23, 24 and 25. The March 24 performance was canceled due to bad weather, and a matinee was scheduled to replace that Friday's performance.
According to two anonymous sources, on the evening after the last theater production, four faculty members stayed in the music department and consumed alcohol.
"When the night custodian was sweeping that hallway, she heard the noise, saw what was happening and recorded them on her phone," one of the sources reported.
When contacted, Belmont Police reported that the incident is a school matter and deferred questions to school district administrators.
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