This is Richard Smyth, a technology teacher at Stoneham Middle School.
Over the weekend Stoneham parents voiced their concern on social media after discovering documents from 30 years ago when Smyth was teaching in Charlotte County, FL, showing that he was disciplined for creepy and inappropriate behavior towards a female student.91133-J-FO-121117162119
In the administrative complaint it alleges that Smyth wrote inappropriate poems on a student’s English papers.
This included long passages about how he wasn’t permitted to have premarital sex with his wife, which was the root of his psychological problems, along with religious conflicts within him, and why he craved companionship as a poet. He creepily told the student how he desired her to “open her doors” so he could “see what’s inside.” Smyth also wrote a 12 page poetry booklet for her with the dedication “from me to you,” and admitted that it was interfering with his home life because “I have risked the dissolution of my family by feeling these poems too intensely.”
The student was convinced that the teacher believed they were in some sort of relationship through the poetry that he was voluntarily writing to her. She believed that the poetry was an invitation for her to intensify this imaginary relationship that only existed in his mid. She wrote him a note explaining that she had no feelings for him.
Smyth wrote her a note apologizing for and admitting to his incorrect interpretations of their relationship. He described the despair he felt as a result, and spoke about suicide and his inability to cope with depression. The student was afraid to say anything because of the power dynamic of the student-teacher relationship.
Twice a week Richard Smyth would regularly pop into the girl’s French class and remove her in order to discuss something. These discussions were always of a personal nature and had nothing to do with school. She became uncomfortable after a while and asked to remain in French class, but he would walk into the classroom uninvited and hand her material. He would also seek her out after school and call her at home when she was sick.
On one occasion Smyth climbed into the passenger seat of her car without permission, looked through the girl’s audio tapes (it was the early 90’s), and then “borrowed” two cassettes belonging to her.
One time when the student was in the guidance office Smyth brought her food, and when asked what he was doing there said, “I’m just bringing some pizza to my girl.”
On another occasion Smyth told her that he wanted her to be in a movie he was making, and that “you don’t have to get naked, although that’s what the poem called for.”
The girl understandably tried to transfer out of his class. When Smyth found out he told her “you can’t leave this class, I have too many things to teach you.”
The student was placed in an independent study hall and would avoid Smyth in the hallways, but he would find her in classrooms and make her feel uncomfortable.
Smyth often focused on the sexual nature of assigned readings during class, which became an ongoing joke with students. On one occasion he told the class “poetry can be orgasmic, basically what you just witnessed was me having an orgasm over a poem.”
Without her consent, Smyth published two of of the victim’s poems from class in a magazine with “sexual undertones.” He also unzipped his fly in front of the class, used offensive and inappropriate language, and held up his middle finger to students.
After this came out at the end of the school year in 1991 Smyth resigned from his teaching position, but the state sought to reprimand him so that he couldn’t get a teaching job at another school in Florida.
The state wanted to take his teaching license permanently and suspend him, and the two sides ultimately reached a settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement stated that he did not contest any of the allegations made against him in the document, and that his teaching license would be suspended through 1994. He agreed to be placed on a probationary period after the suspension was up.
The letter of reprimand from the Florida Department of Education, dated September 21, 1992, said that Smyth wrote notes and poems of a personal nature to a student, made inappropriate comments to her, attempted to engage in an “overly familiar relationship,” used offensive language while teaching, and made sexual comments towards children.
According to his LinkedIn bio Richard Smyth left teaching in 1994 to work as an assistant professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. According to his Facebook page he lived in a “depressing dungeon of a basement apartment” three blocks from the college and had no car. It was there that he met his wife Abbe Wertz, but he could not see the twin sons he left behind in Florida. He and Abbe moved to Massachusetts in 1997 and had twin boys of their own. He began working at Cathedral High School in Boston, just 5 years after he was suspended and put on probation in Florida. He worked there until 2014 while moonlighting as an adjunct professor at Emerson College, and finally began working as a “video game web design” teacher at Stoneham Middle School.
One of the first things he did as a teacher in Stoneham was set up a Twitter account to communicate with students outside of school.
He now lives in Haverhill where he’s active in the Universalist Unitarian Church, and is a youth group advisor.
All of this information comes up when you Google his name, which several Stoneham students did when they felt he was acting creepy towards them. Parents reported this to Stoneham Middle and High School administrators, and were told that they were “misinformed.”
Smyth is politically active on social media and subscribes to blue anon conspiracy theories. He actively spreads disinformation on social media and refused to accept the results of the 2016 Presidential election, which I have reliably been told is a dangerous threat to our democracy. Here is a 2018 video from the Eagle Tribune of election denier Richard Smyth spreading debunked disinformation about Russians hacking our elections.
He suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome and wanted the President impeached within days of him taking the oath of office.
Smyth is a member of the ecoterrorist group known as Extinction Rebellion, which blows up pipelines, blockades highways, and interferes with normal people who just wanna live their lives so that they can be lectured about climate change.
Most people who participate in stunts like this grow out of it by the time they reach 30. Richard Smyth is probably in his early 60’s, and has brainwashed his children to follow in his footsteps. He shared an article in 2016 about how he and his 17 year old twin sons Connor and Aidan Wertz participated in an illegal protest for “climate justice action” to shut down a natural gas pipeline through West Roxbury. It’s unclear why these boys have their mother’s last name, but Smyth allowed Connor to be arrested.
While a social movement encouraging people to buy locally and drive energy-efficient cars is important, the fossil fuel industry is so powerful “that I think the political movement needs to be the focus. That’s one reason I wanted to get arrested,” said Wertz, a high school senior who wants to study sustainability and music in college. His twin brother, Aidan Wertz, and their father, Richard Smyth, also members of the Haverhill congregation, participated in the protest but were not arrested.
I’m utterly proud of him for doing that, and not just him, my other son was willing to do it, too,” said Smyth, who said he and his sons are likely to be arrested at future actions at the site. “It’s extremely meaningful. Ultimately, it’s their world, the young people, and they know that—and it’s scary.
So basically he was unwilling to get arrested himself because he’s a grownup with grownup responsibilities, but he was willing to use his kids as pawns and have them get arrested as sacrificial pawns to stop climate change by preventing people from having access to natural gas.
In 2017 Smyth launched a campaign to run for Haverhill School Committee, with his primary platform being solar panels at the school and environmental issues.
Luckily he lost.
Richard Smyth is a weirdo and a creep who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near kids, who he treats as if they are adults. The notes he wrote to that girl in Florida were creepy and inappropriate, and made her high school experience miserable and uncomfortable. The state of Florida took away his license for a reason, so he fled his family and the state entirely, only to end up teaching a couple years later in Massachusetts. He could’ve rebuilt his life doing any job he wanted to, but he really wants to be around teenage children.
The Stoneham Public Schools clearly know about this guy’s past, since it’s been brought to their attention by multiple parents. They can’t claim ignorance since it comes up on the first page when you Google him, which any competent employer would do. They must answer for this and explain why the covered it up for the last 8 years.
Editor’s Note: We have an update to this story.