Parents of students from a New Hampshire high school have expressed their outrage over officials withholding information regarding the arrest of the school’s dean of students.
Rekha Luther, 36, was arrested in February on charges she possessed heroin and steroids.
She served in her position at Pembroke Academy until her resignation on March 22, just weeks after her arrest, according to The Concord Monitor.
But her arrest was kept quiet from parents of students at the school until Friday when The Monitor’s story appeared.
Jeanne LaBarge, the mother of a 17-year-old student, noticed Luther’s name in police logs.
She told The Monitor: ‘Somebody just disappears from a position of authority and nobody asked questions? The kids don’t say anything? It’s amazing to me how they kept this so quiet.’
Tom Serafin, chairman of the Pembroke School Board told WMUR9: ‘Well, I certainly can’t comment on a personnel issue, but I can comment on the fact that the board, the district and everyone that’s employed by the school is certainly working very hard, and committed to the health and safety of all of our students.’
And despite the school officials saying they were ‘limited’, some parents said the academy should have provided the information anyway.
‘A lot of people are appalled that it has been kept quiet,’ parent, Rachel Tether, told WMUR9.
Police were reportedly tipped off by a caller who allegedly saw a ‘whole bundle’ of hypodermic needles at the school, Chief Dwayne Gilman told The Concord Monitor.
Gilman said his officers were able to determine that the needles were Luther’s after a few hours of investigating.
‘Obviously, with the emphasis on heroin in the state right now, that’s just not something we wanted to take lightly,’ Gilman said. ‘Everything you don’t want to hear in a school happened in one day.’
Gilman told The Monitor: ‘There’s two ways to get the job done: You can be a bull in a china shop or you can think methodically, still have the same outcome and not affect anyone else.’
Though Luther, who is from Manchester, New Hampshire, declined to comment on her arrest, she did post photos of her and her new boyfriend on Facebook a week after she submitted her resignation.
Luther had been handcuffed and taken out of the school through a back door during the time of the arrest.
A school district meeting with about 100 parents two weeks later never brought up Luther’s arrest.
But the School district policy says communications between the school and home are supposed to be ‘regular, two-way and meaningful; parents are full partners in the educational decisions that affect children and families’.
Superintendent Patty Sherman told The Monitor that if a student were found to be in possession of drugs, she would take it on a ‘case-by-case basis’ as to whether she would send an alert to parents.
Sherman added that if the headmaster resigned or was replaced, the district would send out a message, but for the dean of students, ‘probably not’.
Luther posted $10,000 personal recognizance bail the same day she was arrested and was later arraigned in district court. She faces four charges of possession of a controlled drug.
Several advocates have called New Hampshire’s drug problem an epidemic of opioid abuse in the state as more than 400 people in New Hampshire died of drug overdoses last year, including Luther’s fiancé, Jonathan Pesa, who died in June.