NH May Have Destroyed Investigation Records of Hassan Friend Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Department says communications are either confidential or destroyed

Phillips Exeter Academy / WIkimedia Commons
Phillips Exeter Academy / WIkimedia Commons

The state of New Hampshire will not release records of its investigation into the disgraced Phillips Exeter teacher who also served on Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign committee because the records may have been destroyed.

The New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) said it could not turn over records related to its investigation of Rick Schubart, a history teacher forced to retire in 2011 after admitting to sexual misconduct with a student at the boarding school.

"We have conducted a search of our records and information system for the records that you requested and we have found no documents which are not confidential or privileged," the division said in letter.

The Washington Free Beacon filed a Right to Know request, the state equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), after the Boston Globe reported about Schubart’s misconduct in March. The division was asked to provide "copies of any correspondence, emails, or other communication pertaining to Richard Schubart," as well as records of communications with any official email with Phillips Exeter Academy personnel. The division responded in June saying all records were either unavailable or deleted.

"We destroy records of screen outs after 1 year … we destroy records of unfounded cases after 3 years," DCYF Director of Legal Services Byry Kennedy said in the division’s official response. Kennedy did not say whether the Schubart complaint was "unfounded," telling the Washington Free Beacon that doing so would violate the privacy rights of victims.

"I can’t confirm or deny that because reports of abuse or neglect are confidential," he said in a phone interview. "We looked hard and we didn’t find much. We didn’t find anything that was responsive to your request."

Former Phillips Exeter Academy headmaster Tom Hassan, the husband of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, forced Schubart to retire in December 2011 after an alum from the 1970s had reported the teacher for sexual misconduct. The school forwarded the complaint to local law enforcement and DCYF, but did not inform its alumni, student body, or parents about the circumstances surrounding Schubart's retirement.

The Academy, which costs between $37,875 and $48,550 a year in tuition, did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment. The school sent a letter to alumni in July admitting that it had a history of mishandling accusations of sexual assault on campus, according to the Boston Globe. It created a new position, the "director for student well-being," to personally handle any reports of misconduct.

The school permanently banned Schubart from campus in 2015 following a second anonymous complaint from a student who graduated in the 1980s. In April another teacher was fired after admitting to sexual misconduct and the local police department opened up investigations into several additional complaints. No charges have ever been filed against Schubart. The statute of limitations has expired.

Attempts to reach Schubart were unsuccessful, as his voicemail box was full.

Lawmakers called on the state Department of Justice to investigate the boarding school’s handling of sexual misconduct in April. Attorney General Joseph Foster, a Maggie Hassan appointee, declined to launch an inquiry in May.

When confronted by the media following the Boston Globe report, Phillips Exeter Academy apologized for its "insufficient" response. Tom Hassan, who served as headmaster from 2009 to 2015, called his handling of the scandal "inadequate."

Gov. Maggie Hassan named Schubart, a long-time Democratic activist, to a campaign committee just months after the disgraced teacher admitted to having a sexual relationships with a student to her husband. The governor, who lived down the street from the Schubart family for years, has denied any knowledge of the misconduct and said that she did not ask about the circumstances of her friend’s early retirement. She later apologized for appointing him to the campaign committee.

Neither the Hassan campaign nor the governor’s office responded to Washington Free Beacon request for comment.