Parents in Bedford are calling for action after district officials allowed Bedford High School Dean of Students Zanna Blaney to give character testimony on behalf of Kristie Torbick, a former district counselor who plead guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student in Exeter.
At Torbick's sentencing hearing earlier this month, Blaney described her as a "pro when it comes to making a student feel heard" and said she had never been concerned about Torbick crossing boundaries with students.
The Bedford School Board is investigating why the district authorized Blaney's testimony. Last night's School Board meeting was closed for public comment, but still attended by over 50 parents.
Danny Genese, whose son is a senior at Bedford High, was one of them.
"I'm very alarmed that members of our district saw it fit to stand up in open court in support of Ms. Torbick, who is a convicted child molester, pedophile, sex offender. That's why I'm here," Genese said.
Bedford Superintendent Chip McGee wrote in a July 14th letter to staff and the school community that he "agonized" over a request by Torbick's defense lawyer to send Bedford staffers to testify at the hearing. Ultimately, he wrote, it was the district's "responsibility as a public school system to provide information to those who are entitled to it."
District parent Janette Mooney said yesterday that she believes the letter "contained lies."
"I would ask the question, to the people involved, whose needs were being met when we sent our district to defend a sex offender?" Mooney said.
At the end of last night's meeting, Mooney and Genese were among several parents who held signs containing a message for Superintendent McGee: "Resign."