Training and Education about Healthy Relationships and Sexual Misconduct
All employees are trained annually on their duties as mandated reporters as defined by the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), and are also required to engage in annual training—that has been designed in consultation with nationally recognized experts in the field—regarding proper boundaries and conduct insofar as their interactions with students are concerned.
Throughout the year, we continually engage our PK-12 students in developmentally appropriate discussions about their physical, social, and sexual development; personal safety and self-care; healthy decision-making, boundaries, and relationships; how to recognize and report adult misconduct; and how to seek adult support for oneself or a peer.
Community Rules, Guidance, and Expectations
The School’s expectations for employees insofar as their interactions with students are concerned are explained in the Code of Ethical Conduct for Employees in Relation to Students (CEC), which all employees must read and sign annually as a condition of employment.
The CEC provides a values-driven framework for conduct and decision-making, rather than a recitation of discrete rules, and is organized by what David Wolowitz, a nationally recognized expert in the field of healthy school cultures, describes as the “four guideposts of roles, boundaries, accountability, and power.” He defines these terms as follows:Roles
Teachers should be role models and stay in their professional roles with students, such as classroom instructor, coach, or advisor, and avoid personal roles, such as friend or alternative parent.
Teachers should establish clear and appropriate limits at the beginning of relationships with students and maintain them consistently.
Teachers should be alert to the inherent power imbalance between teachers and students and use their influence to promote students’ healthy childhood and adolescent development and age-appropriate personal autonomy.
Teachers should be alert to appearances and to the impact of their actions, and to the appearances and actions of their colleagues. All interactions with students, whether in person, virtually, or electronically, should be transparent as if they are subject to review.
Supporting Survivors of Historical Employee Misconduct
Stevenson School is committed to acknowledging and supporting survivors of historical employee misconduct.
Investigating Historical Employee Sexual Misconduct
In keeping with established practices among independent schools, in 2017 the School began to investigate historical employee sexual misconduct. Specifically, these investigations are primarily focused on incidents that went unreported at the time they occurred, or incidents in which the School’s contemporary response was deficient. All such investigations are conducted by outside investigators. School employees do not communicate with the outside investigators, except to fully and forthrightly answer their questions regarding allegations and to comply with requests to provide relevant records, such as personnel files.
The School has distributed three letters since then to all alumni and current and former employees for whom we have physical mailing addresses, families of all current students, and upper division students. These letters, summarizing the findings of those investigations, are now archived here. The School provides summaries of investigators’ findings, rather than the investigators’ reports, in order to protect the privacy of survivors, witnesses, and other innocent people that these documents either name or make identifiable. We do not assume that the reports we have received thus far represent the totality of historical employee misconduct that went initially unreported or in which the School’s contemporary response was deficient. We will continue to do what we can to build survivors’ confidence in the School’s process for investigating allegations as they arise. We will continue to share the findings of our investigations in a timely and transparent manner, posting any new letters here and notifying our constituencies by email when we do so. We ask for your patience and trust as we move forward.
How You Can Help
We welcome your help in three ways.
- First, if you directly experienced employee sexual or other behavioral misconduct, and either did not report it at the time that it occurred or believe that the School’s contemporary response was deficient, please consider sharing your allegation with one of the School’s outside investigators at Van Dermyden Makus—Liz Paris, Lindsay Ingham, or Tessa Nevarez—by calling (800) 280-2656, a hotline number reserved for this purpose.
- Second, if a person claiming to be an outside investigator contacts you to provide witness testimony in response to someone else’s allegation, please confirm the identity of the outside investigator by calling the number listed above before sharing information. [Consistent with the standard of care, outside investigators only initiate contact with people named by others as potential witnesses; they do not initiate contact with people named by others as possible survivors.]
- Third, please refrain from speculating with Stevenson acquaintances and others as to the possible identity of unnamed survivors and witnesses, as doing so may unintentionally contribute to an environment in which people are less likely to feel safe coming forward with the new or additional information upon which effective investigations depend.