Rochester, NH Teacher Fired After Verbal Fight With Student
A Rochester Middle School teacher caught on video screaming at a student close to their face has been fired following an investigation, but not necessarily because of his behavior.
Superintendent Kyle Repucci said he called for an investigation per district policy and procedure after viewing the video, which he described as a "verbal altercation inside a classroom" which was posted on TikTok and then Facebook.
The teacher, identified as George Connolly, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to the report conducted by a Comprehensive Investigations and Consulting firm, Connolly angrily told a student to leave his classroom about 30 minutes into the class, and pushed a chair towards him. The student also refused an order to turn over his cell phone.
The report also revealed that Connolly, who was certified to teach in Hawaii, was not licensed to teach in New Hampshire. He had a degree from the Teach-Now program at Moreland University in Washington, which erroneously told Connolly that Hawaii and New Hampshire had a reciprocal licensing agreement.
During his interview with investigators, Connolly said the student was being "so disruptive to the process" and was watching a video on his phone instead of paying attention to a new procedure being explained. Connolly said he told the student to leave about 30 minutes into the class.
Interviews with the assistant principal, principal, and Connolly led to the conclusion that Connolly did not handle the situation properly, but that it was an isolated incident.
The issue of Connolly's lack of certification led the investigation to recommend he no longer be employed.
Problems with his certification led the school district to scrutinize future applications for employment and review the certification of all current teachers. The district will also refine its procedure for following the district's disciplinary process after it took 13 days for the central office to be notified about the incident.
“This review is an important first step in helping our district identify areas where we must improve, and beginning the process of making those improvements,” Repucci said in a statement. “We are committing to doing the work necessary to correct any shortcomings in our hiring process, as well as improve and more thoroughly define our policies and procedures.”