Former Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech administrator and one-time candidate for Superintendent of Schools Dr. Heather Larkin has paid a $10,000 civil penalty for violating the state’s conflict of interest law.

According to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, Larkin – the former Director of Guidance and Pupil Personnel Services at GNB Voc-Tech – violated the law “by contracting with her friend and business partner to provide services to the school, using the school’s resources to promote her private business event, and through other actions.”

“Larkin signed a Disposition Agreement in which she admitted the violations and waived her right to a hearing,” the Ethics Commission said.

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The situation began in 2021 when Larkin developed a friendship with a professional mental health performance coach, referred to in the Disposition Agreement as “the Consultant.”

"In January 2022, as Guidance Director, Larkin drafted and signed a $10,000 contract for the Consultant to provide a mental performance coaching program to GNBVT student-athletes from January through June 2022, then approved payments to the Consultant,” the Ethics Commission said. “As Guidance Director, Larkin participated in selecting students to attend the Consultant’s program, including Larkin’s son.”

Larkin Started a Business She Promoted Through the School

Larkin then founded a private business named All In Consulting and Mental Performance Coaching, LLC in March 2022.

In April 2022, she and the Consultant “formed a business partnership to share costs and anticipated profits from a mental health performance summit they planned to co-host in August 2022,” the Ethics Commission said.

She then used school resources to promote her business and the summit.

“At Larkin’s request, GNBVT’s Athletic Director sent an email promoting the summit to a listserv of approximately 500 student-athletes and/or parents,” the Ethics Commission said. “Larkin posted photos of GNBVT student-athletes in their school uniforms on the All In Instagram account promoting the summit. She also posted flyers promoting the summit on the official GNBVT Guidance Department Instagram account, which she managed.”

Larkin Doubled the Consultant’s Contract With the School

After Larkin and the Consultant went into business together, Larkin – in her role as Guidance Director – then drafted and signed a new contract to renew the Consultant’s services with the school, doubling the Consultant’s fee to $20,000.

Larkin Placed on Leave

Larkin was placed on leave from GNB Voc-Tech on June 15, 2022. According to the State Ethics Commission, she and the Consultant held the planned summit on August 3, 2022 “but did not charge the previously planned entrance fee and from which they did not earn a profit.”

Larkin then resigned from Voc-Tech in June 2023.

What the State Ethics Commission Said About Larkin’s Conflicts

“The conflict of interest law prohibits municipal employees from participating officially in matters in which they, their immediate families, or business partners have a financial interest. Larkin violated this prohibition by, as GNBVT Guidance Director, contracting with and approving payments to her business partner, the Consultant.”

“The conflict of interest law also prohibits public employees from using or attempting to use their official positions to obtain valuable privileges or benefits for themselves or others that are not properly available to them. Larkin violated this prohibition by using her GNBVT Guidance Director position to promote her private business event through the use of the school’s student-athlete listserv, the GNBVT Guidance Department Instagram account, and images of GNBVT student-athletes in their school uniforms.”

“Additionally, the conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to conclude that they can be unduly influenced by anyone or are likely to act with favoritism toward anyone in their official actions. Larkin violated this prohibition by participating as GNBVT Guidance Director in contracting with her personal friend, the Consultant, and by participating in her son’s selection to participate in the Consultant’s program. Larkin did not disclose her personal connections to either matter to the Superintendent before participating.”

Larkin Was Once a Finalist for Superintendent of New Bedford Schools

Larkin made the final four of candidates to become New Bedford’s Superintendent of Schools in 2018, with former Mayor Scott Lang endorsing her in a letter to the Standard-Times.

The job ended up going to Thomas Anderson, who left in 2023 to take a job in his hometown of East Hartford, Connecticut.

Larkin’s Husband Also Resigned From New Bedford Public Schools

Larkin’s husband Peter Larkin resigned from his position as an attendance administrator at Carney Academy in July 2020.

The resignation came after he allegedly posted threats of violence on Facebook following the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

“I would roll tanks and bulldozers. Mush any human in the way. Shoot everyone else. Pile up the bodies and burn them on national TV,” the posts allegedly read.

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