CONWAY — Embattled Kennett High School teacher Andy Shaw appeared in Conway's Circuit Court on Tuesday for a plea hearing before Circuit Judge Janet Hay Subers.
Shaw pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor, after being charged in November 2018 of hosting an underage drinking party at his home for students.
Nolo contendere is a Latin term meaning "I will not contest" the charges. It is a plea made by a defendant to a criminal charge, allowing the judge to then find him or her guilty.
“I find that your plea is being made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, and a finding of guilty is entered,” Subers said.
Shaw was ordered to pay a fine of $500 and a penalty assessment of $120. He said he would pay them the same day.
A Class B misdemeanor in New Hampshire is a crime that is punishable by up to a $1,200 fine.
Shaw was represented by attorney Don Ekberg of Ekberg and Associates of North Conway. The Conway police prosecutor was Sgt. William Strong.
In March Shaw appeared in court before Judge Gerard Boyle for a brief trial management conference.
Ekberg told the judge: "The prosecution and I have been engaged in negotiations. We have not finalized anything. For the purposes of this hearing, just mark it up for trial, but I'm confident something can be worked out."
Court documents showed that Shaw originally pleaded not guilty and waived his arraignment before negotiations took place with the prosecution.
Shaw is a popular metals and machine tool teacher at Kennett. Under his tutelage, many students have built parts for NASA as part of the HUNCH (High schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) and have interned at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
In The Conway Daily Sun's recent Best of the Valley Awards for 2019, Shaw was voted best teacher in a Readers Poll.
According to the Conway police complaint, Shaw was charged with holding an underage drinking party on Nov. 3, 2018, at about 10:33 p.m, at his home at 33 Southview Loop, off East Conway Road in Center Conway.
The complaint, written by Conway Police Detective Dominic Torch, said Shaw had knowledge “that people under the age of 21 possessed or intended to consume alcoholic beverages” during a party that he organized at his residence, and, while he was present at the residence, at least five individuals unrelated to him were present and under the age of 21, while at least one individual under the age of 21 consumed or possessed alcohol.”
Following the charges, Shaw had faced termination by the Conway School Board. His standing-room-only disciplinary hearing in January was attended by about 80 townspeople, students and school employees.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Ekberg said Shaw’s case over his “violation” is over, and he’s satisfied with the outcome.
Ekberg said an advantage of pleading nolo is that a prosecutor “cannot use that plea in a future case.”
Ekberg added that he’s glad Shaw is back in the classroom after coming off a Conway School District suspension that ended in May.
The school board, after meeting behind closed doors on Jan. 31, decided to suspend Shaw for more than three months without pay until May 15.
In addition, Shaw was placed on a three-year, last chance improvement plan with conditions to be established by the superintendent.
Reporter Daymond Steer contributed to this article.