Parent charged after threats to superintendent

By Betsy Levinson -
and Jennifer Lord Paluzzi -

The man charged with threatening to shoot Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laurie Hunter has a history of disputes with the Concord Public Schools and had 13 firearms removed from his home after the Dec. 12 incident.

John Grace, 53, allegedly left repeated messages for Hunter, which escalated until the superintendent was “in fear of a violent act,” according to the report filed by Concord Police Detective Derek Rodriguez, who works as the School Resource Officer.

On the day of his final alleged threat,

Grace told a school department staffer that he was going to go to Hunter’s office, stating “You know, I could drive down there and put two into somebody.”

Grace is on house arrest in the custody of his wife, Dianne, and must wear a GPS bracelet. He is charged with threatening to commit a crime (murder by firearm) and making terroristic threats.

A marked police cruiser with a uniformed patrolman has since been stationed outside of Hunter’s office at the Ripley School.

Grace first clashed with the school department in 2020, when a school psychiatrist filed a 51a with the Department of Children and Families due to concerns in the home, according to Rodriguez’s report. Grace has since attempted to learn the license number of the psychiatrist to file a complaint and have her license removed.

In his latest complaint, Grace allegedly repeatedly called Concord-Carlisle High School and Hunter’s office because he was upset about receiving notifications from “Aspen,” the Concord schools’ student information system, Rodriguez wrote. While Hunter emailed Grace about his complaints, he did not respond to her message.

Rodriguez ran Grace’s name through Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), confirming that Grace had purchased 13 firearms since 1999. He also learned that Grace was denied a license to carry in April 2017 by the Concord Police Department due to prior narcotics convictions. Days later, he transferred the firearms to his wife’s license to carry, issued out of Concord.

Rodriguez also reported that when he went to the Grace home with Lt. Brian Goldman and Det. Keith Harrington, Grace would only speak to him through a locked glass weather door.

“He cracked the window and asked me if I had a search warrant, which I stated we did not,” he wrote. “He then demanded I get off his property, calling us ‘f—–g clowns’ as we left.”

Concord Police later returned with search warrants to remove the firearms and arrest Grace.

Police Chief Joseph O’Connor issued a statement through an email to parents describing the incident:

“I am sending this note to share information that a parent threatened to do harm to Dr. Laurie Hunter. On Monday, December 12th the Concord Police Department received information that a specific threat was made by a parent to hurt Dr. Hunter,” he wrote. “The Concord Police Department immediately began an investigation and took steps to ensure her safety. Detectives located the person, sought, and obtained search and arrest warrants as well as an order to seize all firearms in the person’s home. The person was arrested without incident and has been arraigned by the Concord District Court. 

“After a dangerousness hearing this morning, the person was ordered to stay at their residence and is wearing a GPS bracelet. This note is limited to ensure a successful prosecution. Please know that the Police Department works very closely with the schools to ensure the safety of all. I am sure you can all appreciate this has been a difficult few days for Dr. Hunter, please join me in keeping her in your thoughts.”