Greene-Hills School, police quiet on probe of teacher accused of inappropriately touching a student

Published on Thursday, 6 December 2018 19:52
Written by SUSAN CORICA and JUSTIN MUSZYNSKI

@coricaBP

BRISTOL - Police have concluded their investigation into the allegation of a Greene-Hills School teacher inappropriately touching a female student, but they are mum on what investigators found.

Amid detectives concluding their probe, school officials said the Board of Education this week approved the retirement of Timothy Hokanson, sixth-grade science teacher at Greene-Hills School. He was one of three employees at the school originally placed on leave when news of the allegations broke in August. The retirement is retroactive to Oct. 31.

The investigations conducted by local detectives and the state’s Department of Children and Families are currently being reviewed by the area state’s attorney. There is no timeframe as to how long the review will take and when the case will be closed.

Once the case is closed, police said they will be prepared to say whether charges will be filed. Cases are generally closed by way of either an arrest, a suspect being cleared of any wrong doing, a complainant withdrawing a complaint or because investigators could not substantiate the allegations.

Last August, Bristol police confirmed they were investigating a report of a teacher “inappropriately touching” a student at Greene-Hills K-8 School. Principal Scott Gaudet, Hokanson, and school counselor Sheila Therriault were put on paid administrative leave in connection with the investigation.

Gaudet returned to the school in early November, and Therriault is still on paid leave, said Superintendent Susan Moreau.

DCF issued a confidential report on the matter, which was sent to the area state’s attorney, Moreau said. “We haven’t heard from the state’s attorney so we don’t know what the status is.”

At the November school board meeting, Joselyn Benoit, who is the mother of two Greene-Hills students, spoke about her frustration at the lack of communication with parents at the progress of the investigation.

The school community was “devastated” that Gaudet was not in charge at the start of the school year, as Assistant Principal Marci Jones was filling in at another school in the district and the other assistant principal, Megan Rheiner, was new to the school, Benoit said.

Parents went weeks without any communications about the situation until “thankfully on Nov. 2 we received the best email ever that our beloved principal Mr. Gaudet would return to Greene-Hills School on Nov. 5,” she said.

Benoit urged the superintendent and the school board “to be more transparent with parents going forward in the future, if heaven forbid something like this should ever happen at another school in our district.”

More recently, Moreau said if school officials don’t say anything in a situation like this then “unfortunately it’s because we don’t have anything to say. So I guess in the future we’ll just say ‘I’m sorry but we don’t have any information’ and give them that as an update. I can understand why they were upset but at the same time we didn’t have any information to share with them.”

Back on June 7, police received a complaint from DCF of an incident that occurred at Greene-Hills involving a male teacher and a female juvenile student, according to the police statement. “The allegation involved the teacher inappropriately touching the juvenile student.”

As part of the investigation, police were looking into whether school staff complied with state statutes for mandated reporters, police said. “The Bristol Board of Education has taken the appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of the students.”

Moreau sent out a statement that day to Greene-Hills families, students, and staff saying Gaudet, Hokanson, and Therriault were placed on leave, the district was fully cooperating with the investigation, the school year would begin with a substitute for Hokanson’s classes, and no decision had been made yet on who would be acting principal.

No other details of the investigation have been released.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Thursday, 6 December 2018 19:52. Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2018 19:58.