The man tasked with overseeing reforms that address a history of sexual misconduct at St. Paul’s School in Concord abruptly resigned on Monday, citing an “intolerable working environment.”
Jeff Maher, a former security chief at Keene State College, notified St. Paul’s rector Kathleen Giles in a memo dated Monday. New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald distributed Maher’s resignation notice and said it raises serious concerns.
Maher said he was recently berated publicly by a senior administrator. The elite prep school has accused him of exceeding the scope of his responsibility. And Maher said he faces the threat of a civil action by a school administrator that appears to have the tacit approval of the school.
“I have been criticized and accused of exceeding the scope of my responsibilities. It would seem such accusations arrive only when I am less than laudatory of the school’s policies and protocols,” he wrote.
In a statement, St. Paul’s School said it was disappointed with Maher’s resignation. The school went on to say that Maher acted outside his role, and denied any of the allegations in his resignation notice.
“We believe that the school has complied with all of its obligations under the Settlement Agreement and will continue to honor these obligations going forward,” reads a statement issued by St. Paul’s communications director Sarah Aldag.
St. Paul’s School re-opened in September with nearly 500 students.
MacDonald said that Maher was qualified to do the job and worked hard, but he was confronted with what plainly became an untenable situation. MacDonald said his office has reached out to school leaders to gauge the status of a 2018 agreement that forestalled a criminal prosecution of St. Paul’s.
In exchange, the school agreed to a number of reforms, including funding an independent compliance officer for five years.
“We will continue our efforts to protect the welfare and safety of those entrusted to the care of St. Paul’s School,” MacDonald said.
Maher cited three red flags that caused him to doubt the school’s commitment to the agreement:
Leadership wants no investigations that could have criminal or civil impacts and is apprehensive about creating any document that could become a matter of record.
A school employee told Maher he must inform leadership and be advised any time Maher meets with him.
School leadership questioned existing legal agreements, state laws, required training and required partnerships with social services agencies, which are called for in the agreement.
In its statement, St. Paul’s said it has investigated numerous allegations regardless of civil or criminal consequences. The school also said that none of Maher’s reports to MacDonald mention school officials questioning the 2018 agreement.
Meanwhile, the head of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence said St. Paul’s prioritizes its status over the well-being of its students.
“Students have continued to disclose that they have felt bullied and silenced by the school, the same conduct that Mr. Maher reports in his resignation letter has been inflicted upon him,” reads a statement issued by Lyn Schollett, executive director of the coalition. “The news of Mr. Maher’s resignation represents a betrayal to past and current students who believed in good faith that the school had its best interests at heart.”
Part of the 2018 agreement called for St. Paul’s leadership to undergo training provided by the coalition.
The criminal investigation of St. Paul’s School followed the 2015 trial of former St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie for sexual assault and a 2017 report issued by the school detailing dozens of allegations over 50 years.
In August 2019, Maher issued a report that listed 33 allegations of abuse that ranged from theft to sexual assault.