Keeping Children Safe

Examining Past Conduct of Faculty and Staff

In our very first breath, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School asserts “the infinite value of every individual as a child of God.” It is from that recognition of infinite value that all of our work flows, evident in the manner in which we care for our children, seek to engage them in the variety of settings that comprise the Day School, and strive to have them reach their full potential and to “live with integrity, empathy, and purpose.” As such, it is essential—it is our most fundamental responsibility—that we keep our children safe as we encourage them to recognize how deeply they are known, loved, and respected and enable them to grow in confidence and wonder as they move out into a wider world.

With disturbing, heart-rending regularity, we have read of instances of schools and other institutions having failed to keep the young people in their midst safe from sexual misconduct by adults in those communities. So many of those schools and other institutions have been determined to understand the nature and extent of that misconduct, to fulfill their obligations to those young people, however belatedly, and to ensure that no other young person, either currently enrolled or in the future, would have to face abuse.

We write to you today to report that St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School will join those schools and other institutions in examining the past conduct of our faculty and staff with respect to establishing and maintaining appropriate relationships with students here and making certain that we have in place the appropriate policies and procedures in the present to fulfill our most fundamental responsibility of keeping young people safe.

Unlike most of those schools and other institutions, though, St. Patrick’s is taking this step not because of any first-hand report of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior by a member, past or present, of the Day School faculty, staff, or administration. We do so instead because a former faculty member here, who departed St. Patrick’s close to 30 years ago and has since died, was identified, but not by name, in another school’s report as having been alleged to have engaged in inappropriate conduct while an administrator and teacher at that school in the 1960s and 1970s. This individual taught in the Upper School at St. Patrick’s in the 1980s.

Let us be clear: The report at issue did not identify any misconduct by this individual while at St. Patrick’s, and we are aware of no complaints regarding that individual. Having said that, we believe it is our obligation to engage in an independent, thorough-going examination of past conduct and current policies and procedures, all with an eye to honor the young people who have called St. Patrick’s their school-home, those who call it their school-home now, and those who will do so in the future. It is our sincere hope that no young person here at St. Patrick’s has suffered abuse at the hands of any member of the faculty, staff, or administration or experienced any form of inappropriate behavior by an adult associated with the Day School.

As a result, we have retained T&M Protection Services, an independent, professional firm with extensive experience in these matters, to serve as a third-party investigator for the Day School. We encourage anyone with concerns or information related to misconduct by any member of the St. Patrick’s community to contact Laura Kirschstein and her investigative team at T&M by email at or by phone at 646-445-7818 to report those concerns. Rather than limit this investigation to the actions of any single individual or any particular period in St. Patrick’s 63-year history, we have asked T&M Protection Services to examine any question or concern with respect to sexual misconduct that may arise. In addition to the independent investigation by T&M, St. Patrick’s will work with experts in the field to make certain that our policies and procedures fully reflect best practices as well as recent changes in District of Columbia law.

While we cannot be certain what will come of this process, we are determined to have this investigation proceed in a thorough and deliberate manner, with the safety and well-being of students past, present, and future guiding us at every step along the way. We will, in turn, follow up with the St. Patrick’s community once this effort is complete. In the meantime, we are deeply grateful for our partnership with parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends as we work to make the Day School the safest and most secure environment it can be so that the young people in our care can continue to thrive.