October 1, 2020
Dear EWS community,
This past summer, we learned of allegations of sexual abuse at The Emery/Weiner School (EWS) in 2006. We immediately took action by notifying our school community and launching an independent investigation. Throughout this process, we have been committed to being compassionate, rigorous, and transparent. We invited anyone within our community with knowledge about inappropriate conduct on the part of any EWS staff member with a EWS student, then or since, to share that information with our investigator.
Since then, the external investigator has been interviewing witnesses and those impacted. Now, we are sharing the investigator’s findings as well as recommendations to make our school safer and prevent future incidents.
In our letter to the school community sent July 17th, we shared that a former student had posted on social media allegations of sexual abuse during her time at EWS. The former student wrote that she had been sexually victimized by a EWS faculty member. That teacher, whom we will refer to as Faculty Member 1, was terminated in December of 2006.
The Board then authorized an external investigation to be performed by Katherine Flanagan, a highly respected attorney with the Littler Mendelson law firm. Ms. Flanagan is an experienced legal investigator who has conducted many extremely sensitive investigations like this one.
During the course of this investigation, the investigator interviewed thirty-four witnesses, including seventeen former students, as well as administrators and faculty who worked at EWS during the relevant time period. The investigator had unfettered access to whatever records were available.
While we are making the findings public in the interest of transparency and accountability, we also respect the confidentiality of the identities of the students involved. Moreover, the Board has also determined not to disclose publicly in this document the name of the former faculty member who was the reported perpetrator, “Faculty Member 1”, because of legal impediments as well as the Board’s concern for a victim may become an unwilling participant in legal action. In addition to the report to authorities that the school made this past July regarding the former student’s allegations of sexual abuse, our school has also now reported the allegation to the higher educational institution where Faculty Member 1 currently works.
The findings report that, based on a preponderance of the evidence, while employed at EWS, Faculty Member 1 had a sexual contact with an underage female student at EWS, starting in 2005 and for some period of time after that. He engaged in drug and alcohol use with multiple students at EWS during the time he was employed by EWS, and engaged in sexually suggestive and sexually explicit communications with a number of female students during the time he was employed at EWS. In late November of 2006, within an hour of receiving the first report of misconduct concerning Faculty Member 1 from the students, Head of School and Assistant Head of School confronted the teacher and removed him from campus. Within days, his employment was terminated for cause and his alleged conduct was reported to authorities.
We are heartbroken by these findings. The safety of our students is our top priority. We are communicating the findings of this report, and our steps to prevent any future incidents, to those affected by these events.
We undertook this investigation to find out what we could, and to learn from it so that our school can be as safe as it can be. The investigation’s devastating conclusions were that the actions of Faculty Member 1 were deplorable and that EWS students were harmed. However, we also learned that the school’s student safety policies and procedures at the time were properly followed by the school’s leadership.
Student protection is our highest priority. We owe it to our students, past and present, to be vigilant in safeguarding their emotional and physical well-being. Given this commitment, we pledge that our actions, and not just our words, will truly reflect the mission and values of our school. We have already begun to put steps into place to continue improving our policies and procedures, and are researching and designing educational tools to enhance our culture and skill building to help students and faculty reinforce boundaries and healthy and appropriate relationships.
Detailed findings can be found on our website at the following: link
. If, after reading the findings, anyone has any additional information to be shared about misconduct by an employee at EWS, we want to hear from you. Please contact Katherine Flanagan at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 713-652-4704.
We thank attorney Katherine Flanagan for her thorough, professional and sensitive efforts in conducting the investigation into the events of 2006 and earlier. Ms. Flanagan is an accomplished and experienced investigator, and well suited for the challenges of investigating historical sexual abuse. The findings of fact reflect an investigation characterized by transparency and rigor.
An essential finding of the independent report is that The Head of School and administration had no knowledge of the improper actions of the teacher in question prior to November, 2006, and when the incidents were known, the Head of School immediately took the proper actions. We strongly commend Head of School Stuart Dow for his actions, his commitment to transparency, and have full confidence in Mr. Dow’s leadership of The Emery/Weiner School.
The investigation has provided the opportunity to review both the processes and culture of The Emery/Weiner School when responding to incidents of sexual misconduct. As members of the Board of Trustees, we are committed to instituting processes and a culture that not only respond appropriately but that also proactively make such incidents far less likely.
David Goldstein, Board Chair and the Board of Trustees of the Emery/Weiner School