High school reduces days on campus

Brattleboro Union High School.

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BRATTLEBORO — A psychologist will be advising the School Board on how to proceed with claims of misconduct within the Windham Southeast School District. 

Coming out of executive session Tuesday night, the WSESD Board unanimously approved a motion to retain the services of clinical psychologist Dr. Christopher Overtree to support the board and school administrators in a district-wide investigation of district employees. Overtree is "a school climate specialist and public education consultant," Board Chairman David Schoales said. 

"Dr. Overtree will report to the board and help the district develop priorities, strategies, order of operations, communications and related supports necessary to respond in an appropriate and comprehensive matter," Schoales said. "At a time to be determined, Dr. Overtree will also direct and coordinate a school-wide climate assessment and provide recommendations about steps that may be considered in light of the results of the assessment. Dr. Overtree will engage, as needed, additional supports to fulfill these duties and will consult with the board in advance of any recommended changes in scope or process." 

The investigation follows a report in the Commons detailing claims about retired Brattleboro Union High School teacher Zeke Hecker’s sexual misconduct with students. Since the article's publication in the weekly newspaper in August, subsequent reports have been made. 

Before going into executive session Tuesday, Superintendent Mark Speno said representatives of the Women's Freedom Center met with counselors throughout the day. 

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"Their relationship has started so that's exciting," Speno said. 

The Women's Freedom Center, based in Brattleboro, supports survivors of abuse. 

Details on offering a safe space for survivors to share are still being developed. Mindy Haskins Rogers of Northampton, Mass., author of the Commons article and BUHS graduate, said planning within the community is underway. 

"That's great news because there's really so little we can do in that realm and it's the most important part," Schoales said. 

This article was updated at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, to more accurately describe the psychologist's role.