BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — A scathing report reveals administrators at a prep school in Palm Beach County failed to protect students from a teacher who had developed a pattern of having students over for secret sleepovers, private embraces and late-night excursions.
According to the Palm Beach Post (http://bit.ly/2b9yKc2), administrators at St. Andrew’s School looked the other way last year as one teacher seemed to have inappropriate relationships with four students despite repeated warnings. After conducting its own inadequate investigation, the school hired an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation, according to the report.
The findings of the report by New Hampshire attorney David Wolowitz were released to parents on Friday.
The report is critical of the all-boys Episcopal school in Boca Raton for failing on numerous occasions last year to investigate “significant evidence” of misconduct by the former teacher with three teenage students. The former teacher has not been charged with a crime and the school’s own investigation found no evidence of sexual misconduct, according to the Palm Beach Post.
But what was found in the independent report was a pattern of a teacher having inappropriate contact with students, which included having them over for sleepovers at his on-campus apartment. The report also found the exclusive private school in violation of the state law that requires it to report concerns immediately to child-welfare investigators.
“In addition to the fact that a faculty member violated student-faculty boundaries, it is evident that the school had inadequate policies and procedures to protect students,” wrote Jim Byer, the school’s interim headmaster.
“It is also painfully clear that, regardless of the fact that there have been no reports of sexual abuse, senior school administrators did not take sufficient action to protect students from potential abuse,” he added.
The Palm Beach Post story says the school warned the teacher about having students come to his on-campus apartments but that an administrator witnessed the visits continue but did not report the occurrence.
The year-long investigation has touched off a firestorm at St. Andrew’s with parents and staff, with some staff members leaving on their own and headmaster Peter Benedict Jr.’s abrupt departure in April.
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