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:
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.
The upper division’s student handbook, The Navigator, includes community rules, guidance, and expectations that generally apply to students in the middle division, as well. Its provisions are framed in terms of the School’s core values, and are regularly reviewed with middle and upper division students in Assembly, advisory meetings, and other appropriate venues.
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 retained by the School’s counsel, Fenton and Keller. 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 contacting the School’s current outside investigator, such that your allegation can be investigated. Second, if an outside investigator contacts you to provide witness testimony in response to someone else’s allegation, please confirm the identity of the outside investigator with either the School or Fenton and Keller, the School’s legal counsel, before responding to any questions. [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.
Should you wish to report a personal experience of historical employee sexual misconduct, please contact Ms. Stephanie Atigh, the outside investigator currently retained by the School’s counsel, at 831-915-4643. Please understand that doing so is preferable to sharing your information with any School employee, as it preserves to the greatest degree possible the confidentiality of such reports as well as the independence of any ensuing investigation of allegations.