Haverhill School Administration Hires Boston Law Firm to Review Allegations Against Teacher

Haverhill High School gymnasium. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Public Schools has retained a Boston law firm to investigate allegations made against a high school history teacher.

While accusations against Zachary N. Simmons originated outside of the school system, school Superintendent Margaret Marotta told WHAV Simmons was placed on paid leave pending a review by an outside team.

“Given the numerous allegations on Facebook, HPS has engaged Stoneman, Chandler and Miller, a law firm we contract with from time to time, to support us in completing a fair and unbiased investigation,” she said.

Simmons is a longtime Haverhill High School instructor and has won accolades as a Model UN Team adviser.

Benjamin Roy, who identified himself as a member of the “Time’s Up Haverhill” Facebook group briefly mentioned Simmons’ name during the public comment segment of last night’s Haverhill School Committee meeting. Mayor James J. Fiorentini, committee chairman, warned speakers that naming any individual would not be allowed. Before Roy could outline his concerns, he was blocked from the remote meeting. Fiorentini said a strict process is followed when investigating claims because the city is otherwise subject to liability.

“We’re well aware of why Mr. Roy was here and every allegation of this sort, every allegation of any sexual misconduct by any of our employees, is taken very seriously. The school department is looking into the allegations and has hired outside council to assist them in the investigation. There will be a full, fair and impartial investigation,” the mayor said.

Marotta said she is unaware of any past complaints about Simmons.

“In the two years that I have been here, I know there have not been any uninvestigated concerns or complaints regarding sexual misconduct. We are looking into this deeply as we would any situation of this type,” she said.

The “Time’s Up Haverhill” group has requested that Simmons’ personnel file be released to the public among other actions.

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