November 6, 2023
Official statement released by Superintendent Dr. Margaret Adams
Dear Hingham Public School Community,
In light of the many inquiries I have received regarding the arrest of a substitute teacher on October 27 at Hingham Middle School, I am writing to provide additional reassurance and information. I share our community’s concern surrounding the arrest and want to provide details on steps the district takes to ensure all employees, including substitutes, meet hiring requirements established by the Hingham School Committee.
All prospective employees for Hingham Public Schools are required to undergo a Massachusetts criminal offender record information check, commonly referred to as the CORI check, prior to hire. A CORI check enables Massachusetts school districts to view any existing court arraignment records. In this case, the employee provided authorization for her criminal background check (CORI) in the spring of 2023 upon her initial employment. In addition, all prospective employees are required to complete or demonstrate evidence of a national fingerprint background check. The employee met this requirement by providing a “Letter of Suitability” from a previous Massachusetts school district, which is an accepted form of evidence of the fingerprinting requirement and standard practice among school districts.
As has been reported in the media, the employee’s criminal charges occurred in the past few months and would not have been identified through either of these background checks completed at her initial employment. While that is the case in this matter, it is my expectation that we learn from this experience and develop systems and procedures that provide a process for sharing relevant information both within our community through continued collaboration with Hingham Police Department as well as with our neighboring communities to ensure school safety.
As part of my entry to the Hingham Public Schools, the district contracted with Dr. Pamela Gould, a retired superintendent and former human resources director, to review our procedures and policies in Human Resources. Dr. Gould will immediately assist us with a review of the specific timeline and procedures surrounding the employment of the substitute teacher. I will present a report on the findings at an upcoming School Committee meeting as well as our ongoing progress in evaluating our policies and procedures related to human resources.
I take seriously all of the concerns raised by many in our community. My decision not to notify the community at the time of the substitute’s arrest is one that has caused me to reflect. As a superintendent, in matters of personnel, I must balance our community’s desire to know specific details within the bounds of legal and regulatory requirements. I understand that transparency is important to our community and it is one of my core values, as well. You have my commitment that when possible I will provide details as permissible when involving personnel. The safety and well-being of all of our students, staff, and families is of foremost importance to me.
Superintendent of Schools