TEACH Parent Rebuffs Former Haverhill Educator’s Claims

Former Haverhill Public Schools special needs teacher Timothy Walsh raises concerns about the TEACH program at the Feb. 28, 2019 School Committee meeting (Dave Morrison file photograph for WHAV News)

A former Haverhill Public Schools special needs teacher, who resigned from his job in order to highlight mistreatment of elementary aged children, spoke out again at Thursday night’s School Committee meeting.

Timothy Walsh, of Effingham, N.H., stepped down after three years at the Therapeutic Education Assessment Center of Haverhill—known as TEACH—in order to bring attention to what Walsh called “abuse” of special needs students. Walsh, whose students are on the autism spectrum disorder, claimed that his concerns were being ignored by the new administration of St. James School.

Last night, Walsh told the School Committee that he remains unsatisfied that his questions regarding the treatment of his students have gone unanswered by the district.

“The question I have, and the issue I’ve raised was simply that if it was decided last October, why then being the end of February, is it still apparently the best kept secret in the district? Rather than being out in the public forum for discussion with those who would be impacted by the change?” asked Walsh.

Not everyone at the meeting shared Walsh’s sentiments that students in TEACH were being mistreated.

School Committee members also heard from parents like Carrie Harkin-David. Harkin-David, whose son Austin is in TEACH, said that while there should’ve been a discussion regarding changes in the program, she disputed many of Walsh’s claims.

“My son started the TEACH program in 2005. It was dubbed as more of a life-skills track for students with an intellectual disability. Not specifically autism," Harkin-David told the School Committee.

"For me, that represented a safe place for my son,” she said.

As WHAV previously reported, Walsh sent a letter to the School Committee about his concerns for students in the program. Walsh claimed in the letter that new principal was hired with any input from staff members and that that principal had limited experience with disabled children.

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