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Commentary: Dr. Leana: "Time to go, fellas."


I taught English at Horace Mann, alongside child abusers.
 
The current Administration and Board are indistinguishable to me now from their counterparts in my era who knew the worst and said nothing.  Recent remarks about privacy and so forth, while a full investigation is avoided on bogus grounds, are unconvincing, to say the least, and harm the school to which you, ostensibly, proclaim such devotion.
 
You have become the problem and the stone face of a school seen as indifferent to pain and crime.  Lip service is insufficient.  For the good of the school, go.  Or reverse course, fire your ineffectual p.r. team, and do the right thing.
 
Ego or honor, gentlemen?  Pick one.  Every book I ever taught at Horace Mann explored that conflict and its consequences.  Hear that knocking at yon gate?  That's Antigone, demanding to be let in.
 
No one in my classes ever wanted to grow up to be Creon.
 
Go.  Or fix it properly.
 
 
 
Joyce Fitzpatrick (married name, Leana)


RIVERDALE PRESS: HM Sex Abuse Victims Blast School's Trustees


Horace Mann sexual abuse victims blast school’s trustees

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted 10/11/13


Correction appended.

About 30 victims of sexual abuse at Horace Mann School have blasted the school’s board of trustees’ handling of their cases. They stated in an Oct. 9 open letter that the chairman of the board should resign unless he creates more transparency about how the school handled decades of sexual abuse by faculty members.
“The trustees’ response has left us worse off than before, causing fresh pain and hindering our ability to heal and to move on with our lives,” the sexual abuse survivors wrote in a letter.

However, their call seemed unlikely to gain traction. Horace Mann’s Alumni Council voted 22-4 on Oct. 10 against a resolution expressing no confidence in the board leadership unless it cooperates with an independent investigation commissioned by victims of sexual abuse, or starts its own inquiry.

“The action of the Alumni Council speaks for itself,” Horace Mann said through Kekst and Company, a communications firm the school uses to discuss the sexual abuse.

The victims’ letter was the latest in a series of exchanges between the board and graduates concerned about the school’s handling of past sexual abuse cases. Revelations of a pattern of sexual abuse by teachers from 1962 to the late 1990s shocked the Horace Mann community and made national headlines in June 2012.

Steven Friedman, chair of the board of trustees, and Thomas Kelly, head of school, stated in an Oct. 6, letter the board would not publish findings by an independent mediator about the sexual abuse. They wrote the decision came at the behest of victims’ lawyers.
That claim infuriated a group of victims that has worked to reveal the full extent of the sexual abuse. A related group called the Horace Mann Action Committee has hired retired judge Leslie Crocker-Snyder to look into the matter in an investigation the board declined to participate in.

“To reject our request and then to blame us for the school’s lack of transparency – claiming the trustees are acting ‘out of respect for [our] wishes’ – is yet another in a series of betrayals,” the group wrote in a letter available on their website.

Seeking reconciliation

While Mr. Friedman is likely to maintain his post, two sexual abuse victims said their ultimate goal was reconciliation with their alma mater.

“The only way to repair that damage is some sort of reconciliation and talking and owning up by the persons who were responsible,” Daniel Shapiro said. “Now there seems to be no legal impediment to doing that, to talk face to face.”

Joseph Cumming called on his work for reconciliation among Christians, Jews and Muslims as a pastor at Yale University’s International Church.

“I believe that reconciliation is possible when people look each other in the eyes and speak the truth to each other,” said Mr. Cumming. “Reconciliation is much more difficult when people refuse to look each other in the eyes and refuse to examine what the truth is.”

Mr. Shapiro added he wants an apology from a previous chair of the board, Robert Katz, who Mr. Shapiro approached about his case in 2005. Mr. Shapiro says Mr. Katz implied that a fire had destroyed records, including any that might bear on Mr. Shapiro’s situation. But Mr. Shapiro said he came to believe the records were not destroyed and when he further pursued the matter in the same year, Mr. Katz – a second cousin of his – said Horace Mann had no responsibility in the matter.

Mr. Katz declined to comment through Kekst and Company. But the firm said hundreds of files were destroyed in an attic fire due to a lightning strike in June 1984.

Mr. Shapiro, a lawyer, said Mr. Friedman’s resignation as chair of the board would be “the right thing to do. If he leaves, more empathetic heads will prevail.”

Kekst and Company also did not make Mr. Friedman available for comment.

Two of the board of trustees’ committees issued a reply to the victims’ recent letter, saying the school’s trustees unanimously stand behind Mr. Friedman. There are 28 trustees and five officers, including Mr. Friedman.

The board’s executive committee and the committee on trustees and governance reiterated that the board would not participate in Ms. Crocker-Snyder’s investigation because the board cannot share confidential information with third parties. 

However, Mr. Cumming said the claim of unanimous trustee support for Mr. Friedman rings hollow, since there is a gag order preventing trustees from discussing the sexual abuse cases.

“If he would release them from that gag order and they would be able to speak for themselves, we would be able to know whether they are behind him,” Mr. Cumming said, referring to Mr. Friedman.

Horace Mann says it has paid undisclosed sums to a majority of 31 victims of sexual abuse involved in settlement talks. However, Peter Brooks, an organizer for the Horace Mann Action Committee, says his group’s research has found plausible evidence for abuse of 62 victims.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the group of survivors of sexual abuse at Horace Mann hired retired judge Leslie Crocker-Snyder to independently investigate the abuse. The Horace Mann Action Committee hired her.

http://riverdalepress.com/stories/Horace-Mann-sexual-abuse-victims-blast-schools-trustees,53130?page=1&

 
 
 




Fourth Survivors' Letter


Fourth Survivors’ Letter October 9, 2013
We are a group of survivors of sexual abuse at Horace Mann. We write in response to Sunday’s letter from Board Chair Steve Friedman and Head of School Tom Kelly, in which they blamed us for their refusal to tell you and us what happened at HM and why. As a result, we are asking you directly today to support our ongoing call for an independent investigation and public accounting, ending the cover-up at Horace Mann.



THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: HM Group Seeks Board Chair Resignation


Horace Mann Group Seeks a Resignation Former Students Who Say They Were Abused Accuse Board Chairman of Blocking Investigations
By  LISA FLEISHER   CONNECT A group representing former Horace Mann students who say they were abused at the elite private school called for the board of trustees chairman to resign, accusing him of blocking outside investigations of the school's actions.



THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: HM Group Seeks Board Chair Resignation


Horace Mann Group Seeks a Resignation Former Students Who Say They Were Abused Accuse Board Chairman of Blocking Investigations
By  LISA FLEISHER   CONNECT A group representing former Horace Mann students who say they were abused at the elite private school called for the board of trustees chairman to resign, accusing him of blocking outside investigations of the school's actions.



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