Dear members of the Milton Academy community,
Over the weekend, the Boston Globe published an article written by its Spotlight team. The article chronicled graphic and disturbing accounts by alleged victims of sexual abuse at private schools in New England. Sexual misconduct at independent schools has been an investigative focus of the Spotlight team this spring. Though Milton Academy is not named in the article, our School is among 67 schools listed in an associated drop-down search embedded within the online version.
The short paragraph there, associated with Milton, mentions Glenn Edwards, who was arrested on federal charges of online solicitation of a minor in June 2006, after he had left his role as Milton’s Middle School athletic director. When Glenn Edwards was employed at Milton (from 2004 to 2006), the School received no reports that he engaged in any sexual misconduct with students. When Milton’s leadership at that time subsequently learned of the charges brought against him, they reviewed his employment records and invited students and parents to meet with administrators and share any thoughts or experiences they felt to be relevant. Neither that review, nor those conversations, resulted in any report of sexual misconduct. His arrest was widely reported, including by the Boston Globe, at that time.
Sexual misconduct is a salient issue for schools across the country, including Milton. As you would expect, we have strict protocols for responding to any complaint of sexual misconduct. Those protocols include immediate care for the individual involved and swift reporting to the appropriate agencies.
The safety and well-being of the students in Milton’s care is a topmost priority for me—as a school leader, as an educator, as a parent. Our hiring procedures include criminal background and FBI fingerprint checks; faculty and staff members complete these before arriving on campus. Each year, Milton employees complete training and education sessions on many topics, including sexual harassment, mandated reporting, and appropriate boundaries when working with children. While these training elements educate our faculty and staff in real time, the work of setting and communicating standards is never done. We continually assess our program, to ensure that we can educate students while providing a safe environment for those in our care.
Throughout our curriculum—Kindergarten through Grade 12—we teach students in developmentally appropriate ways about healthy relationships and good decision-making; about boundaries, responsibility, self-respect and care for others. We invite outside experts to speak with students about issues related to consent, and we use explicit course programming—affective education is our term for this—in weekly meetings starting in Grade 7, to focus on the important issues of self care and good citizenship. In younger grades, these concepts are woven throughout the curriculum. At the start of each school year, we make sure students are aware of the many resources available to them on campus, including our excellent counseling staff—and we remind them routinely.
As the Globe article points out, responding to allegations of sexual abuse that may have occurred several decades ago is inherently challenging; today’s school leaders must respond with care, compassion, and appropriate action. No school—public, private or parochial—or organization that serves children is immune from those challenges.
This past weekend, the issue of safety and security on our campus was the central topic of discussion for Milton’s board of trustees, during the end-of-year board meetings. Milton’s trustees and senior leadership reviewed school policies, programs and procedures that aim to keep the students and adults on campus safe. We enlist many resources—internal and external— to guide us as we 1) ensure that we are doing everything possible to maintain a safe environment in which to live and learn, and 2) affirm that our protocols are correct and up-to-date, should we learn of an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a member of our community.
Accounts like those shared in the Boston Globe article deeply sadden us all. They cause educators and school leaders across the country to reaffirm the importance of continually reviewing and enhancing schools’ approaches and practices. I assure you, this work is always a priority for Milton. If you have questions or concerns related to the information I have shared, or related to this topic, I invite you to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thank you for your continued care and support of this great school.
Todd B. Bland
Head of School
View more from the Healing and Safety Oversight Committee.