Goals of The Amends Project:
- Bring the truth to light.
- Hold leaders accountable.
- Enact lasting, positive change.
Core Tenets of The Amends Project:
- No further exploitation will be allowed on the way toward resolution.
- Success by means of fear/control is no success at all.
- Situations will be influenced only by the sheer power of honesty, a fierce insistence on accountability, and the encouragement toward true growth and positive change.
- The Project will only conclude when leaders admit to the cover up, and new policies are firmly in place to protect the rights and wellbeing of students for perpetuity.
- This is for everyone.
Where in the world has the light of awareness reached?“Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Week 19: How to Respond Letter.10.4.18 We officially invite school leaders to respond.
Week 18: “Does character matter?”
– Rachel Mitchell, Arizona Sex Crimes Prosecutor, during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings on September 27, 2018.
This week, we look at the concept of Authority and where we see evidence of its presence or absence in key players of The Amends Project.
We, as Organized Alumni, have now tallied 9 accounts of predatory sexual misconduct on minors by former Lawrence Academy employee, Peter Regis. Is there any doubt that this happened? Documented reports were made in 1994. Though, notably, no police report was ever made. Headmaster Steven L Hahn knew. Trustee Bruce MacNeil knew [Bruce MacNeil is still acting president of the Board of Trustees]. It’s what happened next – response – that matters…
Lawrence Academy is now facing new lawsuits as a result of public awareness of these incidents. Their response? Hire a firm to create an internal report (falsely referred to as an “independent investigation”) – the fate and contents of which are entirely up to the school itself. This has been confirmed by phone call and in writing.
When a school has knowingly aided and abetted a criminal, dismissed a student by revoking her financial aid following her insistence that right action be done, and kept this man employed for 7 years despite years of her pleading… is this an entity which has earned the title of Authority?
- We cannot demand the benefits of being an Authority figure without also walking the talk of acting with personal Authority: knowing what you believe and acting accordingly.
A clear sign of authority is doing the right thing even when no one is looking or telling you to do so. We know a child has grown into personal authority when he can be trusted to make the wise and healthy choice, even when a parent is no longer watching over.
Has Lawrence Academy achieved this level of Authority? We believe not. Upon asking sex misconduct victims to come forward, they “disagree” over any wrongdoing, offer 1 – 3% of attorney’s settlement with silence on terms, and claim “sadly, we cannot change the events of the past”. To disregard the most vocal student, violate confidentiality agreements, and attempt to defame her character to the press as she asks for change… this is a sign of one who has not matured to the point of Authority.
To brush this first student aside with “disagreements”, discrediting and defamation – and then say to all: “Give us your personal details! We are looking into it!” — this is not a higher response. Those who mistreat former students have not earned the right to have that information.
To quote Cory Booker, US Senator for New Jersey, during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings on September 27, 2018, “How we deal with survivors who come forward right now is unacceptable.”
- We cannot demand the benefits of being an Authority figure without also walking the talk of acting with personal Authority: knowing what you believe and acting accordingly.
Yes, Sanghavi Group is “looking into” Peter Regis. We have confirmed this is the extent of their searching, in writing by email. Who is Looking Into Lawrence Academy? That’s where we come in.
Headmaster R Daniel Scheibe recently wrote: “After we have gathered reports in any of the ways described immediately above [related to Peter Regis], the school, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, will decide how best to respond.” But the question remains — has the school earned the right or authority to be the one to decide?
St. Paul’s School of New Hampshire has been dealt a landmark decision by Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald, that an overseer reports all incidents to the state for five years. He, too, understands that doling out fines and punishments does not ensure a change in behavior by the institution. He, too, sees that institutions which have condoned and covered up abuse now need true, independent oversight.
Here is what we, as Organized Alumni, are asking of Lawrence Academy officials, past and present:
- That all confidentiality clauses, gag-orders and silencing agreements are now lifted immediately and indefinitely, without recourse.
- That Steven L Hahn, R Daniel Scheibe, Bruce MacNeil and Paul Lannon Admit the facts, Apologize for their behavior and Amend by releasing fair & adjusted settlement to the student immediately.
- That Lawrence Academy now agrees to participate in The Justice CORPS, to walk their talk, by accepting oversight and transparency for the well-being of students.
Week 17: Why do this outside the legal system? Because we can do a better job of ensuring that things truly change. Why not just drag everyone to court? Because the chance of re-offending (by covering up crimes against children) remains too high. How do we do better? Please enjoy this short video on Restorative Justice:
Why didn’t this work for Lawrence Academy and the student? Well, you can enjoy the long-view story of how the past two years have played out Here. The simple answer is – school leaders attempted to sabotage the process – with a surprise letter saying the Restorative Justice Circle on February 28, 2018 had been called off. After the student had travelled all the way across the country! Also, headmaster Steven L Hahn chose to be unavailable for the second part of the day, when repairs would be discussed.
Restorative Justice doesn’t work when key players make themselves unavailable.
Beyond this, Lawrence Academy attorney Paul Lannon worked with headmaster Dan Scheibe to craft a succinct response to the issue of wrongdoing by the school: “We disagree” is all they all say. That’s not how Restorative Justice works either.
This week, the student offers a necessary reframe on the “disagreement” that has plagued this situation for decades. Here we go:
- The student believes it is wrong to knowingly employ a child molester at a place where new kids are going to come in every year and not know. School leaders believed it was ok to minimize the severity and potential risk of an abuser on campus, following two matching reports of 2nd degree child molestation; enough to give the man a home among students, a job, and health insurance for life.
- The student believes that action in the form of Acknowledgement of Wrongs, Apology, and Amends is required. Lawrence Academy officials believe “hearing former students out” is enough.
- The student believes that repairs need to reflect harm done by the school. Lawrence Academy believes an amount equivalent only to degree of abuse by the former employee is plenty (1 – 3% of attorney demands – but only if she’s quiet about their offer). They believe there is no moral obligation to account for damages by their choices and behavior.
- The student believes a cover-up problem continues to this day, as there has been no ownership of responsibility, and recent documents of similar behavior have also surfaced. She believes crucial oversight is in order, as outlined in the Justice CORPS proposal. Lawrence Academy officials want everyone to believe everything is absolutely fine and better now; they’ve got it. They’re “looking into it”.
- The student believes the person who watched her plead for right action for the wellbeing of other students for 7 years is the most culpable. He is the party who aided and abetted, and also validated, a predator. Steve Hahn believes current headmaster and attorney should be the only ones to handle the situation now.
What do you think? Let them know how you feel!
Steven L Hahn (603) 724-3290
R Daniel Scheibe (978) 448-1526
Attorney Paul Lannon (617) 573-5842
. . . Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald revealed the findings during an afternoon news conference at his office in Concord.
“We could have charged the school,” MacDonald said.
Instead, MacDonald said, he has signed an agreement with St. Paul’s School to appoint an overseer to work at the school for five years.
“Rather we pursued a course of comprehensive reform,” MacDonald said. Criminal charges would, at most, have resulted in misdemeanor convictions and fines, he said.
The overseer will report to the New Hampshire Department of Justice and will enforce the agreement between St. Paul’s School and the attorney general. Public reports will be required on a biannual basis.
The agreement requires St. Paul’s School to report alleged abuse of students to the overseer and the New Hampshire Department of Justice before launching an internal investigation, MacDonald said.
Remember, The Amends Project proposes an Oversight Committee called the Justice CORPS: https://loveandtruthrising.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/justice-corps-proposal-7-22-18.pdf Lawrence Academy officials have, so far, declined consideration or participation.
Hats off to St. Paul’s and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald for taking a higher road. We, at The Amends Project, are also asking Lawrence Academy of Groton, MA to take a similar step and live out accountability at once.
- All School officials need to stop referring to the work of Sanghavi Group as “an independent investigation”. Former students have confirmed by phone that all information discovered is intended to stay within the school. This is an expensive internal report – and it needs to stop immediately. Employees of Sanghavi Group have even begun approaching alumni – unsolicited – after following their social media posts, and pressuring them into sharing sensitive details – without answering direct questions in advance.
- Attorney Paul Lannon needs to confirm whether allegations of sexual assault by a family member of the current headmaster – within the past decade – are true. Most importantly, if students and families were pressured into not pressing charges, and given off-the-record compensation, this needs to be confirmed immediately as well.
- All families deserve to know whether there have been recent allegations of sexual misconduct at Lawrence Academy – and if the school has handled these in accordance with legal mandates. Let’s ask that all gag orders, confidentiality agreements and clauses now be lifted. Concerned citizens may email firstname.lastname@example.org for an Action Plan with contacts and a list of key questions. We all deserve to know the Truth.
Week 15: Concerned citizens may or may not know, The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) partnered in 2016 to create clear recommendations (released August 2017) for addressing staff sexual misconduct in schools. What do they say?
“In other cases, however, misguided concern about community disruption, the reputation of the school, or personal loyalties — among other considerations — took precedence over caring for abuse victims, protecting students, and preventing future abuse.
“Several schools have compounded survivors’ injuries . . . It is the clear responsibility of each school to act unfailingly on its commitment to provide a safe learning environment for students and, if an incident of abuse occurs, to help victims and survivors of educator sexual misconduct at the school. We must not confuse institutional integrity with institutional reputation.
- “Students must understand how to report any issues that they experience or that they suspect are happening to other students, both inside and outside the school community. They should also understand that retaliation against anyone who reports suspected abuse will not be tolerated.
The Imperative of Leadership
“The truest measure of institutional strength is the integrity with which a school lives out its mission and values. In preventing and responding to educator sexual misconduct, a school may find its integrity put to the test. When abuse is reported, any school’s mission would support responding to reporters of abuse with compassion, diligence, and justice. And many schools’ missions and mottos prescribe truth and honesty, which can be manifested by communicating openly with board members, parents, students, and other constituencies.
“Open, transparent approaches that reflect care, acknowledge fault, offer apology, share Draft Recommendations for Addressing Educator Sexual Misconduct in Independent Schools information, and take remedial action are becoming more commonplace. Schools that honestly and openly confront abuse are the standard-bearers for the independent school community.”
Admit. Apologize. Amend.
We Outraged Alumni are saying it. The larger governing boards of Independent Schools & Boarding Schools across the nation are saying it.
How is Lawrence Academy not hearing it? What or Who is standing in the way? Ask!
Week 14: Rosh Hashanah
Time to pause and reflect. It has been nearly two years since Lawrence Academy Asked Sex Misconduct Victims to Come Forward. What have we achieved? What have we learned?
In some parts of the world, and for those who live a Jewish life, this weekend marks the end and renewal of the year with Rosh Hashanah. The start of the High Holy Days. A time of endings, and by necessity – new beginnings.
Some sources say that Rosh Hashanah is about judgement, a higher source caring enough to know and insist on what is right. There is reference to love, potential, inner renewal and divine atonement…
For those connected to The Amends Project, it is a great time to ask – What will be our story? Running and hiding from past wrongdoings or courageously facing mistakes that have harmed many?
Can’t we all feel the potential love and freedom that comes from saying, “I made a poor decision. I see how it affected and affects so many of you.”? Let’s refresh and set a new standard that allows for those in ‘leadership’ to show the strength of admission of guilt. Only then can we find divine atonement.
From chabad.org . . . “The blowing of the ram’s horn represents the trumpet at a king’s coronation. Its plaintive cry is a call to repentance.
Teshuvah (“Return”; Repentance): (lit. “return”); repentance, return to a Jew’s true essence
We can’t tell you how to feel regret or resolve; it’s just something that happens inside. But we can give you a few tips on how to clean up the mess a mess-up leaves in its trail.”
A Blessing – that all may move courageously toward the graces of Divine Atonement.
Week 13: Start of school! With so many trying to make sense of mixed messages, confusion over words vs. actions, and other illusions, we have brought yet another discrepancy to light.
Sent anonymously by mail and shared with The Amends Project in mid-2018.
An excerpt from the public statement sent by Dan Scheibe on May 18, 2018:
Who is confused? For all the young people who may be wrestling with making sense of the world they are presented, and the world they see by reality and action among them… Know that we are here and we are fighting for You.
End of Week 12: About that “Independent Investigation” . . .
Some Lawrence Academy alumni are receiving letters with news of an “independent” investigation into sexual abuse at the school. Reassuring? Let’s see…
“But critics say that the firms, often described by administrators as “independent,” can be too close to the schools they are investigating. Ultimately, it is the schools that pay their bills, and decide what information will be released.” . . .
[From Lawrence Academy’s very own, Paul Lannon] “It’s important for institutions to be careful about the word ‘independent’ and be transparent about what this means,” said Paul G. Lannon Jr., a partner at Holland & Knight. “They are paying for these services, it’s not like these are volunteers coming in.”
[Paul sat in on the Restorative Justice Circle with former student Vanessa Osage, ’96 on March 1, 2018 – where no conclusion of compensation was made – and former headmaster Steve Hahn left for that portion of the day]
“But the reports serve a public relations function as well. At schools that haven’t seemed proactive and transparent, “school reputation and financial well-being” have “experienced collateral damage,” warned a recent draft of guidelines on how schools should respond to allegations of staff sexual abuse from the National Association of Independent Schools and The Association of Boarding Schools.
“At the outset, schools generally outline parameters for the firms they hire. Some ask investigators to focus on a specific span of time, or on adult misconduct, as opposed to student-on-student sexual violence. They will decide whether the inquiry will culminate in a written report, or some kind of oral presentation. A budget is discussed. Some reports name several perpetrators and the administrators who protected them, while others present almost no information about what happened.
“Some pledge ahead of time to release their findings, while others wait to see what is uncovered before they decide what they will make public.” . . .
“For each investigation, a team of up to half a dozen people can spend months conducting interviews, digging into records and chasing leads. Inquiries frequently cost schools hundreds of thousands of dollars, lawyers and school officials say, and at least one school spent $2 million on its comprehensive report.”
Wait… where have we seen that number before?
Alumni have also spoken recently of “Fiduciary Responsibility”. Lawrence Academy counts hundreds (thousands?) of donors to the school from Trustees to Parents to Alumni and more. See The Annual Giving Report of 2015-2016.
Given the choice, would these donors rather have their funds directed to a PR stint with uncertain outcomes – while the school denies any responsibility for wrongdoing – or allocated to a student who worked for decades to insist that school leaders protect future children even as she recovered from her own wounding?
What would the donor priorities be?
If you are a benefactor of Lawrence Academy, you may cast your vote!
Lawrence Academy main phone (978) 448-6535
Let them know how you want that money spent. If you want to invest in establishing new safeguards for students right now, you can give directly to this page:
Let school leaders know we see what is happening – with our kids, with the money, with the use of language and with priorities. We are an informed public.
Week 12: New this week!
The second event from The Power of Honest Conversations Series happens this week!
To reserve a spot, email: email@example.com to answer a few questions and receive an overview of expectations and an itinerary for the evening.
The goal is to identify interested community members to create a local Task Force to implement the Justice CORPS initiative at New England boarding schools.
True, Lawrence Academy may not be strong enough yet to take responsibility and commit to positive change. So, the plan is to approach the more ethically robust institutions around the region to find first willing participants in the pilot program.
With this phase underway, the student will continue to insist on accountability and growth from Lawrence Academy, to bring relief to the many who have suffered in this way under their care.
The event starts promptly at 5:30 pm on Friday August 31, in Somerville, MA. Press passes are available to a limit of 3 attendees, with advance approval. Please direct all questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 11: What Will We Preserve? What is Our Story?
Lawrence Academy Trustee Bruce MacNeil recently surfaced as a voice in the movement toward justice and reconciliation of decades of abuse at New England boarding schools… But, what does he represent?
From the pages of Lawrence Academy in Groton:
Faces Lifted in MacNeil Lounge
Posted 04/03/2013 08:23AM
MacNeil Lounge just plain feels better this year—that’s what happens when somebody pays very close attention to you. And when you feel good, it rubs off on those who come to visit you.
The loving touch came from the duo that tends to the keeping of Lawrence Academy’s history, volunteers Paul Husted ’64 and Dick Jeffers.
They recently completed the extensive repair and restoration of a historic portrait that has not seen the light of day for many years, and the need to hang this “new” addition prompted them to rethink the display of portraits on the walls of the MacNeil Lounge. The refreshed arrangement is attractive, welcoming, and informative.
Malcolm and Helen MacNeil have taken their proper place over the mantle, the room having been named for them when they furnished it in 1949. Malcolm also served on the Board of Trustees (1948–1965), as did his son Norman (1960–1983), as does his son, current president Bruce MacNeil (1984–).
The MacNeils gaze out over a collection of portraits of benefactors, trustees, and long-tenured heads of school spaced tastefully between the tall windows along the walls. http://www.lacademy.edu/cf_news/view.cfm?newsid=409
That’s a lot of pressure. Could that kind of lineage influence your decision-making process in hard moments? In 1994, Lawrence Academy officials decided to keep a documented child molester employed and living on campus, after a sophomore student confronted him about his behavior. Two matching accounts were recorded. When this student asked repeatedly what would be done about this discovery by leaders, her financial aid was revoked and she was prevented from returning. Bruce MacNeil was serving as Board President at the time.
Now, Bruce MacNeil continues to refer to all of this as a “disagreement”. Confusing, yes?
Where is the good-feeling care and attention here? . . . Who’s feeling the love?
In 2001, the same student – after 7 years of pleading with leaders to do the right thing – returned to the school to speak the Truth and in effect, finally removed the perpetrator from campus. His removal was classified as “release on permanent, long-term disability”. Right, health insurance for perpetuity. The sudden resignation by headmaster Steve Hahn the following year, in 2002, was delivered in news of only praise and honor. He still shows up at wine socials for school leaders.
What is the story of Lawrence Academy, in regards to learning from its mistakes? As an institution for higher learning, how are leaders modeling the mindset needed to learn and grow in the first place?
On a larger scale, what will this moment now, in 2018, tell about the enduring quality of an institution that spans two centuries?
As for Bruce MacNeil, what would make it safe for someone to admit their mistakes and wrongdoing? Generally, the secure person is more equipped to demonstrate the character and grace to say, “That was wrong. I am so sorry. How can we make this right?”. As hundreds of men in authority are called to account around the region, Bruce MacNeil, current headmaster Dan Scheibe, and former headmaster Steve Hahn continue to evade all forms of communication with the student. These men either remain silent and unavailable, or offer discrediting commentary to the press about the student and her efforts. Most pointedly and sharply, this is done by Bruce MacNeil, who has never met the student – but likely knows her part in this long story better than any other…
If your grandfather and your father were behind-the-scenes leaders of a big institution – and horrible news of abuse surfaced during your tenure, would you tremble at owning up to the consequences? Could that kind of inheritance inspire someone to defame the voice of one who points out a wrongdoing and holds you to account?
The greater the test, the stronger the testimony. The test now is for Lawrence Academy leaders – past and present – to admit to a cover-up at the expense of former students. When we admit to the problem of cover-up behavior (which has proven relevant by very similar accounts in 2016), only then we can consider a resolution. It is the moment of admission that turns the tide and makes space for a new precedent to be set, one that can tell a higher story about the 200-year-old school.
Nearly two years ago, Headmaster Dan Sheibe Asked Sex Misconduct Victims to Come Forward. http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_30490411/lawrence-academy-asks-sex-misconduct-victims-come-forward.
Two Years of active hiding and denying. Bruce MacNeil has made his email contact available, for any student, parent or alumni to bring their concerns.
Let’s encourage him, in a way that is safe, to take the courageous step to inspire a true transformation at the place where his patrilineal heritage has brought him Now.
“We enacted a cover-up. We did this at the expense of students. We are sorry.”
President of the Board of Trustees Bruce MacNeil (email@example.com)
End of Week 10: First, in solidarity with all of those who have been fighting for justice and the truth to be known in Pennsylvania Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Cover-ups for so long, we share this from the New York Times, on August 14, 2018 (3 days ago) :
The relevant echoes? “They wanted to cover up the cover-up,” he said.
Which brings us to The Amends Project.
Oh, if you follow print media, and find yourself feeling confused about the word “unreasonable” lately (what does get exchanged between the student and school leaders?), you might find clarity Here.
Now . . . Onward!
The Power of Honest Conversations
Well, Lawrence Academy officials were strangely silent following the invitation to a Public Response Event on Thursday in Somerville, MA. (Headmaster Dan Scheibe was even reported by school receptionist to be “in and out of the office”, “in a meeting” and “on vacation” – all in the same day!)
Still, the student and supporters went on without them…
In response to interest generated by the event, The Amends Project www.theamendsproject.com is hosting a follow-up gathering with a new theme. Good things come from honest conversations. So, Facilitators are now inviting concerned families to have an open forum with alumni & associates from Lawrence Academy about these issues. Come learn about the Justice CORPS proposal and more.
All families deserve the reassurance that, if anything happened to their child at school, the needs and well-being of the child would absolutely come first.
What is the biggest issue here? The quality of response from school leaders when human rights violations are suffered by students under their care.
What is the purpose of these meetings, and the Amends Project overall? It is 3-fold: 1. to bring the truth to light. 2. to hold school leaders to account. 3. to enact lasting, positive change.
Friday August 31, 2018
5:30 – 7:30 pm
The Green Room
62 Bow Street, Prospect Hill
Somerville, MA 02143
Kindly RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your seat (limited to 15 / 25 with standing room)
This event is Free with confirmation in advance. For a press pass (available to reporters and bloggers in advance – limited to 3), email: email@example.com by Thursday August 30, 2018.
Craving some relevant information to help you in steering your kids towards healthy sexuality in the meantime? A recently published piece by Vanessa Osage, “Speaking Reverence, Speaking Truth” Enjoy!
Week 10: Public Response Event Tonight!
Thursday August 16, 2018
6 – 7 pm
62 Bow Street, Prospect Hill
Somerville, Massachusetts 02143
Open to the press, and the public, a chance to ask questions, share concerns and contribute to positive change. Seating is limited to 25. Arrive early to arrange for parking and to get a seat. Fifteen minutes of introductions, followed by questions. Overseen by a local facilitator. Look forward to seeing you there!
Burdensome choice is now Lawrence Academy’s
When I was 16, Lawrence Academy in Groton put me in a horrible position. Even more than failing to protect me from the child molester I had just confronted; even more than removing my sense of place and derailing my education, I was given the burdensome choice between allowing their decisions or honoring my conscience.
This is what honoring my conscience looks like: www.theamendsproject.com.
In 1994, Lawrence Academy decided to keep a documented child molester on campus after two students gave matching testimonies. In 2016, the school asked sex misconduct victims to step forward. Now, officials choose to “disagree” about any wrongdoing and are directing attention to a new investigation.
The choice to not settle with a former student, but instead hire private investigators to create an internal report to mitigate risk, is a clear message about the school’s priorities.
Any funds offered, (3.75 percent of the attorney’s demand), come from the coffers of a public-interest institution and do not affect the personal finances of the decision makers. By contrast, everything the student puts into seeking repair is at direct, personal expense.
It is time to resolve the persistent conflict of interest between Lawrence Academy to preserve a reputation — and of students and families for safety and protection. This is why I propose, and have created a model for, a Justice CORPS — the Committee to Oversee the Rights & Protections of Students.
My goal is to create a system that relieves my burden of addressing the wrongs done by an institution where adults within continually choose to do nothing. At 16, I made it my job to see that no further students would be harmed here in the same way. I need to hand over my burden now. I am ready for resolution.
Vanessa Osage, ’96
End of Week 8: What does Lawrence Academy say to accountability this week? No, thanks.
Today we have a lesson about words that start with the letter “D”.
First, a quick review:
Two Lawrence Academy students share accounts of a similar pattern of abuse by a school employee. One student later approaches the leader of the school to ask what will be done. The answer is, “If it happens again, he’ll have to go”. She approaches again soon after, urging that something be done. At the end of the year, the student learns there is no financial aid available for her return. Her sister, also a student, is financially supported to return and she is not. The following year, the child molester remains employed, living on campus (for another 7 years following), and the student who spoke up is not there.
Current administrators now refer to this as a “disagreement”. Let’s look more closely at language, shall we?
Webster’s Dictionary offers this: disagreement /ˌdɪsəˈgriːmənt/ noun, plural disagreements
Learner’s definition of DISAGREEMENT
1 a [noncount] : failure to agree
▪There’s been a lot of disagreement about/on/over how best to spend the money.
▪He has expressed disagreement [=he has said that he disagrees] with some aspects of the proposal.
b [count] : a difference of opinion : an argument caused by people having different opinions about something
▪We’ve had a number of serious disagreements [=disputes, arguments] over the years.
▪Several disagreements have yet to be resolved.
Now, let’s contrast this word, as it relates to the above paragraph, with the word “denial”.
Again, from Webster’s: denial /dɪˈnajəl/ noun, plural denials
Learner’s definition of DENIAL
1 [count] : a statement saying that something is not true or real : a statement in which someone denies something
▪She issued a flat/absolute/outright denial of the charges made against her.
▪The accusations have met with angry denials from school officials.
▪The city government has been heavily criticized for its denial of the seriousness of the situation.
▪his denial of responsibility
2 [noncount] psychology : a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad, painful, etc., is true or real
▪I think she’s still in a state of denial about her husband’s death. [=she still has not fully accepted that her husband is dead]
— often used in the phrase in denial
▪He’s in denial about his drinking problem. [=he will not admit that he drinks too much alcohol]
Which word more accurately describes the school’s response to what has happened?
Also this week, a new public statement is issued from Lawrence Academy about a new claim of child sexual abuse by Peter Regis. A police report is made and investigators are hired. Notably, a marked change in tone and approach is implemented.
Again, for a quick review… Following start of the public phase of the Amends Project, the school issued a statement on May 18, 2018 with these words:
“It is fair to say, however, that the school is not in full agreement with several claims that are made in the alumna’s account.”
This sentiment was echoed this week in a private response from headmaster Dan Scheibe to the student, regarding a proposal for a new accountability system as well as acknowledgement and resolution:
“…the board cannot accept your proposal as we still disagree with some of your conclusions.”
Ok. Take a moment here to pause and digest that . . . Now, let’s reference two other relevant “D” words. Again, from Webster’s:
Definition of discredit
1: to refuse to accept as true or accurate : disbelieve
- discredit a rumor
2: to cause disbelief in the accuracy or authority of
- a discredited theory
Definition of dismiss
1: to permit or cause to leave
- dismiss the visitors
- Class is dismissed.
2: to remove from position or service : discharge
- dismissed the thievish servant
3a : to reject serious consideration of
- dismissed the thought
How do these words relate to the response of the school to the student’s coming forward? To the first public statement? Efforts toward resolution?
Reference to the past also showed a striking contrast. From the May 18 statement regarding the Amends Project:
“Sadly, we cannot change the events or acts of the past.”
From the statement of July 26, regarding the surfacing of new, similar allegations:
“…we must learn as much as we can about what happened in our past so that we can face matters squarely today…”
Also from July 26: “The more information Lawrence Academy has, the more effective we can be in responding to alumni who may have experienced misconduct while here…”
How effective has the response been so far? (hint)
What is the school’s goal in gathering these facts? Once sufficiently achieved… then, what? If an institution hires investigators to compile an internal report, do they also get editing rights?
Most importantly – what is the lesson? What is the lesson and when will we know that school leaders have learned it?
Response. The root of Responsibility, the one thing that is always within our power. The place where we can make the greatest impact. Honest, humble, accountable, supportive, consistent, trustworthy Response.
The last “D” word is offered here for open-ended interpretation.
diversion (dĭ-vûrˈzhən, -shən, dī-)
n.The act or an instance of diverting or turning aside; deviation.
n.Something that distracts the mind and relaxes or entertains.
n.A maneuver that draws the attention of an opponent away from a planned point of action, especially as part of military strategy.
We can do so much better here. Isn’t it time? Wouldn’t it restore balance, trust, safety alignment of word/action, integrity, honor, respect and more?
From this week’s statement from Lawrence Academy:
“This sense of care is our fundamental mission, based in trust and responsibility.”
Let’s get there.
Week 8: The student invites Lawrence Academy to participate in a pilot program, The Justice CORPS – Council to Oversee the Rights & Protections of Students. This accountability system would provide a confidential communication tool for students to report human rights violations to a diverse group of adults outside of and non-affiliated with the institution. After being advised of their rights and options, students and families would have the benefit of advocacy and oversight, as well as a third party to aid in communications back to the school. Participating schools would then have a Justice CORPS ranking, available for public review and consideration by families.
The student awaits acceptance of her proposal, in addition to resolution terms, this week.
Reassured by the promise of a new safeguard for students’ rights? Sign Here!
So, what is Accountability? From Assad Schuitema’s Human Excellence Group, comes this excerpt:
“Practically accountability involves, among other things, the ability to own up to your mistakes, both to yourself and to others. Mistakes happen, that is a fact of life. There are however different ways in which we can respond to mistakes. The accountable person responds to his/her mistakes by acknowledging them and then doing all he/she can to rectify the mistake. This is why an accountable person is trustworthy with responsibilities. When they mess up, they will tell you and will do what they can to fix it.
“A person who is not accountable however will not be able to own up to his/her mistakes. Such a person will play the blame game, trying to offload responsibility onto someone else instead of carrying the burden oneself. Such a person of course cannot be trusted with responsibilities because when they make a mistake you can expect a cover up rather than efforts to fix it.
“But what are the benefits of owning up to your mistakes? I will list 3 of what I take to be the most important.
1. Solutions come quicker: The person who is in the best position to understand a problem is the one who caused it. . . . By not owning up to your mistakes there is the possibility that they can become serious problems. Also, if problems come to light and there are people playing the blame game this will also, naturally, impede the resolution of the issue. There can be no solution when individuals are trying to pin the problem on someone else.
2. You learn through your mistakes:
Your last mistake is your best teacher. . . . If you want to learn from your mistakes you have to own up and admit them. It is only once you have admitted your mistake that you will learn from it.
3. You will earn the respect of others:
As Bruce Lee says, every mistake is always forgivable, as long as you have the courage to admit it. People for the most part are forgiving when you make mistakes. They become harsh only when you try to cover them up.
Most often however people are not only forgiving when you own up to your errors, they actually develop a deep respect for you when you do. Owning up to your mistakes shows courage and accountability and these are things we instinctively respect in people. We cannot help but respect the person we think is courageous and accountable.
So, by being accountable to ourselves and others by owning up to our mistakes, we are helping to ensure that they are quickly fixed, that we learn from them, and that we earn respect in the process.”
Week 6: Pop Quiz!: Name the character from The Story who most closely matches the description in bold below.
There are three elements to most aiding and abetting charges against an individual. The first is that another person committed the crime. Second, the individual being charged had knowledge of the crime or the principals\’ intent. Third, the individual provided some form of assistance to the principal. An accessory in legal terms is typically defined as a person who assists in the commission of a crime committed by another or others. In most cases, a person charged with aiding and abetting or accessory has knowledge of the crime either before or after its occurrence. A person who is aware of a crime before it occurs, and who gives some form of aid to those committing the crime, is known in legal terms as an “accessory before the fact.” He or she may assist through advice, actions, or monetary support. A person who is unaware of the crime before it takes place, but who helps in the aftermath of the crime, is referred to as an “accessory after the fact.”
Punishments for accessories vary in different jurisdictions. Sometimes accessories have had lesser punishments than principals. Other times, accessories are considered to be principals. Common law traditionally considers an accessory just as guilty as the principal in a crime, and therefore subject to the same penalties.
Send your answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
. . . If we normalize secrecy and control, it will surely continue. Acknowledging what happened honestly and making it right is a crucial step toward recovery for all. Accountability absolutely keeps kids safer. Remember to sign and share!
Dear New England Residents,
I write you today with a mix of relief, frustration and concern. My name is Vanessa Osage and I am the former student seeking amends from Lawrence Academy. First, I thank you for your attention to this story. As a sexuality educator, consultant/coach and leader of a mission-driven business, I care about this today for a number of reasons.
First, we must understand that sexual abuse and/or harassment do not happen in a vacuum. They are perpetrated by abusers, bystanders and enablers. When someone turns away or supports structures that allow abuse, these players are also accountable. In this story, I suggest, the key players are even more accountable than a man who was ill and acting out.
I have been asked by Lawrence Academy, on numerous occasions over the course of decades, to be a silent accomplice to these crimes. I will not. Not when they send me away, not when they attempt to control my message, not when they offer pocket change amends, but only if I am quiet about it.
I speak now, as I did then, because the bigger picture of these abuses matters. How every one of us responds to these issues matters. I have created a website where you may direct your energy into action: www.theamendsproject.com
We always have a voice. There is always a clear and nondestructive path to justice. I invite you to join me.
Love & Truth Rising
A Mission to Positively Transform Love, Sexuality & Human Connections
Working in the field of sexual health and positive social change for nearly a decade, and currently writing a book about sexual maturity in America. See website for more information.
Also, if you are an attorney, child advocate or policy-maker, and would like to talk about collaborating to create new “cover up crime” laws, please contact me at: email@example.com
Week 4: A powerful Editorial is issued in the Lowell Sun, bringing light to the reality of sending away a press reporter from covering graduation on Friday June 1: http://www.lowellsun.com/editorials/ci_31921585/lawrence-academy-private-boarding-school-groton-set-new
To quote Matthew Kelly, internationally acclaimed author & business consultant, “This involves owning up to who we are, who we have been… and how we have failed. This journey liberates us to be able to say, “I messed up”. This is a significant advance in any relationship. Because if we are unable to admit that we have messed up in the past, we are unlikely to be too good at admitting when we mess up today.”
How does this impact the students of today? The faculty who seek to make their living by teaching and guiding young people?
There is a way to cleanse this wound. Many, many are watching and waiting.
End of Week 3: After hundreds in the region were called on to attend graduation, simply wearing yellow to symbolize a new day of honesty & accountability, a Lowell Sun reporter was turned away from covering yesterday’s ceremony:
The effort it takes to block truth and uphold a lie is always greater that the effort it would have taken to admit, cleanse and resolve the truth of the situation in the first place.
Whom do we admire and trust more? One who says, “I did nothing wrong! They were wrong and, look, I’ve been so good in these other ways…” – or – “Geez, I really made a mistake there. I was scared (uncertain/fearful/etc) and wasn’t my best self. I apologize. What can we do to make this right?”
Great words deserve to be verified by great action. Can one sing their own praises, claiming traits of responsibility and trust and convince others simply by their words? To quote R. Buckminster Fuller: “Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”
Start of Week 3: Rick Sobey publishes a feature article in the Sunday Lowell Sun: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31904793/nightmare-without-end
This needs to end the way all nightmares end – we wake up!
A call to all in the greater Boston area to attend high school graduation on Friday, June 1 simply wearing yellow, to signify the new day, where all leaders are held accountable.
A simple, non-threatening gesture to say, “We see this, and we want it to end”. Coming out of denial is the first step in every 12-step Recovery Program. The concern is – if they won’t admit now to the ways they covered up these crimes in the past, the tendency to hide a wrongdoing could play out again, in some other form…
As the sun rises, all is revealed. In the light of awareness, there is nothing to hide and true recovery is possible. Sign above with a comment that says, “I will wear yellow!”. We can all truly contribute to this larger awakening.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same mind we used when we created them.”
The fundamental “disagreement” between the current administration and the student is clearly established: That the student asked for help, and received none; that someone from within the school then revoked only her financial aid (and not that of her sibling), preventing her return for the 1994-95 school year; that, in order to return, she would have to accept special restrictions.
That she remained in contact with Steve Hahn from 1997 – 2001, by letter and in person, urging him to take right action may or may not be disputed.
The root level mindset which informs, ‘Do whatever we can to preserve the image of the school at all costs, even to the student’s well-being or safety’, shows itself to be alive and well in the actions of last week.
The student calls on Headmaster Dan Scheibe to enact a fundamental mindset shift to one that now says, ‘The school did this. It was wrong. Let’s make it right’.
Steps are clearly outlined, and delivered with a request for acceptance in time for announcement of conclusion at the graduation ceremony on Friday June 1, 2018.
End of Week 1: Current Headmaster R Daniel Scheibe sends a letter to all faculty and staff in defense of the information circulated on The Amends Project website. In it, he perpetuates lies that had been hand-written by former Headmaster, Steven L Hahn in the 1990’s. Dan Scheibe had been aware of their untruth before choosing to utilize them in this format.
Most notably, he also makes an ethics violation by sharing details of the abuse to all current faculty and staff without the consent of the former victims. The issue of breach of confidentiality agreement for the Restorative Justice Circle is called into question.
Guidelines put forth by the School Counselors Association regarding the handling of sexual abuse details also states: “The need-to-know rule requires school counselors reveal sensitive information only when the recipients of the information has a need to know and is in a position to benefit the student if they have the shared information.”
Poignant. Now, every member of the Lawrence Academy faculty and staff has been placed in a uniquely strong position to benefit the student. Let’s consider this an invitation to sign:
Week 1: The Amends Project viewed by 274 people – including over a dozen national and regional (New England) accrediting boards, schools, youth & justice organizations – in seven countries around the world! Signatures inch toward the 100 mark.
New, second petition added through Care2.com with the option to sign anonymously.
“If we are to be really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.” — Theodore Roosevelt