Making Schools Safe

In June 2012, the New York Times revealed four decades of sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School. Subsequent investigation revealed how a secretive administration turned a blind eye to reports of abuse from the earliest days. Students and parents who came forward were ignored or intimidated. Known serial abusers were kept on for decades or quietly shuffled off to teach elsewhere.
Though the abuse has likely ceased, the silence that abetted it continues. The school has refused to investigate these horrific events. Because of the statute of limitations, no criminal prosecution is possible. In their stead, a group of alumni have taken it upon themselves to organize this independent investigation.
Our goal is not to rehash or accuse, but simply to understand how more than twenty abusers operated for decades with little fear of reprisal. What were the policies and practices that, intentionally or not, shielded and enabled them? Most importantly, what can this tragedy teach us about making other schools safe?
Though what happened at Horace Mann cannot be undone, we hope the lessons gleaned from our investigation and oultined in our report can make schools and students everywhere safer.
This report is the only comprehensive account of a half-century of abuse and coverup at the Horace Mann School. It was commissioned so that the causes could be understood rather than the acts simply lamented.
We encourage you to read the sections that are of greatest interest and relevance to you, paying particular attention to how the Findings, Recommendations and Best Practices sections relate to schools where you may be a parent, alumnus, student, faculty or staff.
Sexual Abuse at Horace Mann:
An investigation into sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School
with recommendations for how independent schools can protect our children.
I. Report Narrative
The main section of the report is a case study, which we hope will be used as a teaching tool in educational administration and leadership programs. It is intended not only as a comprehensive record but as the basis for discussions about educational policy, leadership and ethics. The section was written by Laura Winig, who has written many such studies for the Kennedy School of Government and other institutions.
II. Comparative Analysis
A survey of recent incidents at comparable independent schools, prepared by Suzanne Leinwand under the direction of Cardozo Law Professor Marci Hamilton.
III. Best Practices for Prevention of Sexual Abuse
A distillation of widely accepted policies to protect students. It is based on the research by Professor Charol Shakeshaft of Virginia Commonwealth University, an expert in student sex abuse prevention.
IV. Findings & Recommendations
Prepared by Lead Investigator Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, this section delineates the results of the investigation and makes recommendations for improving the safety of students at all schools.
V. Appendices
The Appendices contain additional information about student sexual abuse at Horace Mann and other similar schools, including a List of Reports of Abuse received by the Horace Mann Administration.