A message from Alexandra and Ken Edwards

thurstoneWe write to you today with heavy hearts. From Alexandra’s perspective as an alumna, an alumni parent, and the Head of School for 15 years, and from Ken’s perspective as an alumni parent and the Chair of our Board of Trustees, we are deeply committed to St. Francis, its students, its alumni, its faculty and staff, and its Mission overall. A school should be a safe, welcoming, and affirming place, and we at St. Francis have worked very hard over these last 50+ years to ensure that it is.

In January 2015, two of our alumnae came to the School with allegations relating to inappropriate sexual conduct in the 1980s by a then and current high school faculty member. When these allegations were brought forward, the School retained an investigator to conduct an investigation of these allegations. Based on the conclusion of that investigation, the School handled it as a personnel matter internally, determining not to dismiss the faculty member in question. During the investigation, no other allegations of misconduct by this faculty member were disclosed.

Recently, however, we have reflected on evolving standards in addressing such concerns at Independent Schools like St Francis. Upon reviewing this seriously, we acknowledge that the prior investigation may not be adequate under these evolving standards and best practices of today. Recognizing the importance of addressing these issues with the utmost compassion and transparency, we have decided to engage a new independent investigator to re-execute the investigation and place the faculty member on leave until the investigation is complete.

We have retained an experienced investigator, Sarah Worley, to do this important work in line with our principles. Specifically, we are guided by the following goals:

  • Ensuring the safety of our students;
  • Protecting the privacy of and showing compassion for any victims;
  • Treating our faculty and staff fairly; and
  • Being as transparent as possible with the community, while preserving the School’s duty to preserving the safety of students, well-being of any victims, and privacy of faculty and staff.

Sarah’s website, www.worleyconflictresolution.com, contains detailed information on her background; she has extensive experience in this area as a certified Civil Rights and Title IX investigator, and, as an example, served as the lead mediator in the Boston Archdiocese case. Sarah can be reached by phone at 617-419-0900, or via email at sarah@worleyconflictresolution.com. We encourage anyone in the St. Francis community to contact Sarah directly with information about these allegations or any other allegations.

It took great courage and strength on the part of these two alumnae to come forward, and we thank them for doing so. The nature of these allegations is deeply unsettling. However, this is also difficult because the allegations involve a faculty member who has served the community for many years. So we take these allegations very seriously, recognizing our responsibility and obligation to treat everyone involved with compassion and fairness. It is our commitment to ensure that we conduct a deep and thorough investigation and come to a just resolution for all parties involved. We ask all in the community to do your part to help us do so.

The spirit of St. Francis School is one of compassion and self-reflection, and it is that compassion and self-reflection that will lead our community forward together.

Sincerely,

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Alexandra S. Thurstone, G’80, ’84, Head of School 

Ken Edwards sig

Kenneth F. Edwards, Chair, SFS Board of Trustees