Hull Superintendent Michael Devine is currently on leave after at least two former students of his from Norwell and Hull have come forward and alleged that he tried to have sex with them after they graduated. We received yet another email over the weekend from a former Norwell student that has not yet been verified, but which is consistent with the other allegations.
This is the first person to allege that the Mr. Devine said that he was attracted to him while he was still a student. We can’t corroborate this story since there seems to be a long and documented history of sweeping Devine’s troubling behavior under the carpet. But as you will see, it’s far from the first time something like this has happened in Hull.
Mr. Devine was able to maintain his position in Hull for a decade largely because people like Robin Flint, who runs the Hull Happenings Facebook group, covered for the alleged predator. She would not allow people to share witness statements from his victims on her community page, but did post Amanda Sawyer’s petition to boycott TB Daily News, make up lies about our record, and urge people to fraudulently report our YouTube channel, which we use to monetize the business.
As you know if you follow TB Daily News, Amanda Sawyer is in desperate need of serious psychological help. She clearly was in contact with Robin and got her to share this. Generally if you find yourself aligned with Amanda Sawyer you should reconsider your life choices.
After her campaign to harass our business backfired and ended up with people posting negative reviews on her business page, she decided to close down her group.
Don’t. Poke. The. Turtle.
The other Facebook group in town eulogized her page, complained about Robin’s business being smeared (while failing to point out that Robin had no problem maliciously attacking our business), and inferred that law enforcement is investigating Turtleboy.
This pattern of sweeping sexual harassment under the rug seems to be ingrained in the culture in Hull. We heard from a former Hull Memorial Middle School teacher, who shared her harrowing experience.
On March 10 2018, I received an email to my personal email containing a sexually explicit image (a dick pic). The email itself was from a “email@example.com,” a nickname used the day prior in a science class with 6 students. I texted the vice-principal at the time, and she and I filed a police report together in Quincy. That Monday, teachers expected those 6 students to be interviewed at the start of the day. That did not happen then or ever that I was made aware of. It wasn’t until the last 30 minutes of the school day that anybody approached me. I met with a school resource officer, Officer Fahey, to discuss the email. Several times he prompted me to describe the image and refused to look at it when I asked if he just wanted to see the email. At no point was a female employee also present. In an official response to the Hull Teacher’s Association, Fahey later referred to it as an “alleged” email and would not acknowledge that the incident actually happened. In the weeks after speaking with Officer Fahey, I heard nothing from him. He never responded to an email I sent a week after meeting with him. As far as I know, he never talked to a single student.
Here’s the police report.
The email to Officer Fahey that was never returned.
The email from the kid (graphic images not included because we don’t publish kiddie porn).
And evidence that that same email address also sent her a quiz she had given the kids in class, proving that it had to be a student from her class who sent her the graphic image.
Kid this age talk. Had the police and school investigated this it would’ve been fairly easy to get the responsible party and punish him appropriately. But that never happened because the principal covered it up.
I continued researching on my own since the school had taken absolutely no action, and found out that the email’s recovery information was enough to match only one contact in the school system- a student who was in that science class of 6 students. I provided this information, and my principal, Tony Hrivnak, asked the student if he was involved. He took the student’s ‘no’ answer as finite. Ahead of time he told the parent he was to bring in a phone to research. The parent, with ample time to wipe the phone of all evidence, brought in the phone and provided no information. Nothing further was communicated with me after this point. At a later meeting, Tony told employees I was looking for a “me too moment” for pushing this issue.
We have reached out to Memorial Middle School Principal Hrivnak for comment on why he allegedly told other faculty members that this teacher was “looking for her #Metoo moment,” simply because she didn’t appreciate child pornography being sent to her by students, but he has not gotten back to us.
The student remained in both my History and English classes throughout this investigation and for the remainder of the year. I was offered no accommodations and was expected to fulfill my duties while the “investigation” continued. To this day, I have no idea what the full extent of the investigation was and what the results of the investigation were. Nobody ever followed up with me after the single meeting with Officer Fahey. No students were ever disciplined, and Hull Public Schools considers the case closed and the case thoroughly investigated.
The woman no longer works there because her position was cut due to budget cuts, which is a convenient way for a school district to make a problem like this disappear. I saw this all the time at Shepherd Hill. I spoke about it in detail in my book. We had a teacher who I knew for a fact had a sexual relationship with a student at Millbury High School. Millbury knew it too, but they didn’t tell Shepherd Hill because school districts operate like the Catholic Church – they make problems go away by moving people around and covering things up instead of addressing the actual issue. The lesson this boy learned is that you can sexually harass women, so long as it’s done over the Internet.
A grievance I filed to reopen the investigation was denied three times- by principal Tony Hrivnak, by Mike Devine, and then by the school committee with Mike sitting with them. Throughout the meeting Mike continued to support the middle school and principal. I additionally asked in the grievance for students and all staff to receive training in sexual harassment guidelines and protocol, and only middle school teachers were granted this procedure. (Side note, the middle school has had unrestricted 1:1 iPads for years, and every year there are a handful of instances with students sending sexual images or texts via the school issued iPad. No procedural changes were ever made during my time there.)
During these months the only administration to support me was the sole female vice-principal. Everyone else either ignored my emails, never circled back to me, or made me feel as if I was being dramatic. To this day, no school administrator has ever apologized for the events, revealed what was done at the end of the investigation, or told me which students were talked to. By a lack of action, Tony Hrivnak, Mike Devine, and Officer Fahey have supported sexual harassment in schools.
The superintendent who grooms young boys and tries to have sex with them, the principal who accused a victim of looking for attention, and the School Committee that chooses to employ both of them, denied the union’s legitimate grievance. Raise your hand if you’re shocked. This is why unions are necessary and still exist – because of corrupt administrators and school committees. .See Andover, Southbridge, and many more examples for further reading. (The union reps speech before the school committee is transcribed below).
The Hull School Committee needs to answer for this and explain why they continue to be so permissive about sexual harassment in their school district. What female teacher would ever feel comfortable working in an environment like this moving forward? And what kid of message is it sending young boys?
Speaker 1: On a Saturday morning in March, a teacher at Memorial Middle school informed me that she had received a sexually explicit photo that she suspected was sent to her by a student. A police report was filed, and an investigation began. Over the course of the week following the receipt of the photo, teachers at Memorial Middle School provided statements and evidence to the people responsible for the investigation, and these statements and evidence began to very quickly indicate the involvement of one particular student. The teacher herself, after suffering sexual harassment by what seemed to be one of her own students, provided the investigators with incontrovertible evidence that this student was involved. Today is Monday, June 18th, and as of this moment, not a single teacher, including the teacher who suffered sexual harassment as a result of her job in the Hull Public Schools, knows what was done with all of the information that was provided during the investigation. No student was ever disciplined, and the administration of the Hull Public Schools considers this investigation closed. At no time during the investigation did the investigators communicate the steps or results of this investigation to the teacher, and the HTA has also been denied twice through the grievance process in their requests to obtain this information and have the investigation reopened. To put it clearly: the administration of the Hull Public Schools has failed miserably in their duty to support an employee that has suffered sexual harassment under their watch.
At no time was this female teacher offered any accommodation while the investigation was being conducted. She reported for work on that following Monday, and has continued to carry out her duties while having to face and interact with someone who has sexually harassed her. At no time was another female present when this teacher was meeting with the investigators. During an interview, the two men in charge of the investigation required this teacher to describe the pornographic image she received in detail, and refused to look at the image themselves. In an official response to the HTA, one of the investigators, having refused to look at the photo, would not even acknowledge that the incident happened, and said that this teacher “alleges” to have received the photo.
If you are unsettled by this information, or disgusted as I am, then I think those are appropriate feelings. I ask you to consider the feelings of every female employee in the district as they have watched a colleague and a friend be completely abandoned by our administration. It’s very possible that every student in the district knows what happened and who did it, and also that they got away with it, yet the teachers have gone months without answers or support. I thank you for your time and this opportunity to speak, and in closing, I ask you to consider the following hypothetical situation: if any of the evidence had indicated that I was the one who sent the picture, how differently do you think this would have been handled?
Speaker 2: My name is redacted. I am a teacher at Hull High School, and I would like to take a few minutes to outline the consequences of the administration not acting accordingly to the sexual harassment case. Hull’s mission statement emphasizes personal responsibility and integrity. As a public school, it has the obligation to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for both the students and the staff.
The first consequence of this case and the failure by the administration to act is that female teachers will be less likely to come forward with sexual harassment cases. Women have already expressed to me that they are afraid to speak up for their coworkers for fear of retaliation, non-renewal of contracts, or heightened friction in their daily jobs. Fear that nothing will be done, even if they do speak up.
In addition to the long term effects on the staff and faculty of Hull Public Schools, the administration has created an unsafe environment for girls by letting boys off the hook for their inappropriate actions. If our focus is on personal responsibility, then we have failed in our mission, as our students will not take responsibility for their detrimental actions. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, 60% of high school boys find it acceptable to force a girl into sex. 60%. This is because of the culture that WE have created, a culture of allowing men to get away with unacceptable behavior, without any consequences other than a slap on the wrist.
This issue goes beyond sending photos. If we send the message that this form of sexual harassment is acceptable, then we are sending the message that all sexual harassment is acceptable. We are sending the message that groping, heckling, cat calling, unwanted touching, sexual assault, and rape are acceptable. This attitude is created and reinforced by the lack of disciplinary action taken by the administration. If students were not disciplined for sending these photos to a teacher, they know there will be no consequence to sending them to another student.
I would now like to shift focus to the young girls and young women in our community. By failing to take sexual harassment seriously, the administration has created an unsafe environment for our young girls. In a given school year, 58% of 7th-12th graders will experience sexual harassment. Few girls and women report it.
Let us remember that we live in 2018. Smartphones are almost ubiquitous. Anonymous blogs exist that rate the bodies of young students. Snapchat allows students to send photos that disappear after 10 seconds or less. Messages can be sent from anonymous sources. Communication is instantaneous. Technology can and has been used to berate, intimidate, threaten, and humiliate young girls. Not only can it create an unsafe space for women, but with the speed at which information spreads, it is clear to me that all students know that this incident occurred, and all students know that nothing has been done.
This is not just about the image. This is about what the administration is teaching our young boys. Let me reiterate: By not acting accordingly when faced with this incident, the message that is being sent to young men and women is that these images are OK to send and that sexual harassment is OK.
At the end of the day it is bigger than just one student and one image at the Hull Memorial Middle School. This is about the future that we want to create. I want to see a world where sexual harassment is not tolerated by the people in leadership positions. I want to see a world where all students feel comfortable and safe speaking up against sexual harassment. I want to see a world where boys and girls are taught to treat each other with respect. And when they do not, they are disciplined accordingly. I want to see a future,and a school, where all young people are able to feel safe.
The Union now calls for an investigation into how the administration handled the incident, and a report of what they will do better in future sexual harassment cases. In addition, we call for union oversight of the sexual harassment training, to make sure this is COMPREHENSIVE and SUSTAINED training.
Speaker 3: On March 9 at 7:00 AM, a Memorial Middle School teacher opened up her private email to find that she had received a pornographic image from an unknown email address. The email address referenced a silly nickname that was created by 7 students in Science class, shared with the teacher, and had become an inside joke. She immediately knew that a student had sent the image. She reached out to the principal and vice principal that morning and met with Quincy police department with the vice principal. She was reassured that the matter would be taken seriously, but when she got to school on Monday morning, nothing happened. No one met with her first period, no one asked her if she wanted to be excused from the class of students who most likely sent the picture, no one asked how she was handling the incident. It was not until the last five minutes of school that our SRO pulled her from class to discuss the email. Over the course of the interview with the SRO, he refused to look at the picture himself, asking the teacher to describe the content of the email to him in detail.
Several days went by with no updates from administrator or the SRO as to what was happening with the investigation. On March 12, the teacher took it upon herself to investigate the email address as she felt that too much time was passing. She went to Yahoo.com, typed in the email address, then clicked “Forgot my password” in order to view the recovery email address or phone number. She was given several digits of a recovery phone number. She used this information to personally go through all of her students’ contact information on Aspen until she found a match. The match was one of the seven students she had originally suspected. Furthermore, it was a student who has been brought up to the Student Intervention Team on several occasions for sexually inappropriate comments and behavior. She thought that her investigative work had paid off, and that the student would face the consequences of his behavior.
Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Instead of carefully thinking about how best to use this information, administration reached out to the student’s parent, explaining the entire situation over the phone and sharing with the parent the information we had about the recovery phone number. This gave the parent enough time to change the recovery phone number, delete incriminating evidence, and speak to the child in question before coming to the Middle School in person. After this, it seemed as if administration said “We did everything we could.” From our perspective, and from the lack of transparency and communication, none of the 8th graders were interviewed and that there was no other follow up. A bungled and thoughtless attempt to investigate with one parent hardly seemed like administration was doing “everything they could.” Additionally, the teacher sent an email to the SRO on March 19, but received no response.
After an entire month went by, the teacher felt as though her discomfort and the emotional impact of the event were not being taken seriously. Furthermore, the students had indirectly learned that a teenager could sexually harass a teacher and get away with it. At this point, the teacher approached union representatives and asked to file a grievance. Months later, we are here to say that we are still left feeling unsatisfied and disappointed with how the school system handled this troubling incident.
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