Horace Mann’s apology falls short for victims

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Horace Mann issued its first public apology to alumni who were sexually abused by school faculty, but victims said the message was disingenuous because the school still refuses to investigate decades of abuse and, therefore, does not know what it is apologizing for.

On May 24, Horace Mann Head of School Thomas Kelly and Board of Trustees Chair Steven Friedman released a statement acknowledging that former teachers and administrators sexually abused students between 1962 and 1996.

“We sincerely apologize for the harm that was caused by the teachers and administrators who abused anyone during their years at Horace Mann School. These unconscionable betrayals of trust never should have happened. But they did, and now we, as a school must fully accept this reality,” the statement read. “Members of the Horace Mann School community who are survivors deserve our gratitude for having the courage to come forward, and our deep appreciation for demanding that Horace Mann School become a model for child abuse prevention and reporting programs. Beyond their pain, generations of alumni/ae have had their memories of Horace Mann School tarnished by these abusers. For this, too, we apologize.”

Some alumni were concerned that people who served as trustees when abuse was reported and did nothing were continuing to serve as trustee emeriti. In the note, Horace Mann announced it would eliminate that position effective June 30.

According to the release, “the great majority” of the 31 alumni that participated in settlement talks brokered by Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation reached an agreement with the school.

Horace Mann’s letter, which was posted on its website the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, announced plans to create an advisory board on student safety. The board will have seats for at least one abuse survivor, a representative from the Bronx District Attorney’s office, a New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children employee and a representative from Commonwealth Mediation.

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HenryHudson

Say this for Horace Mann, they're consistent. They've botched the response to this crisis from day one. Why stop now? Head of School Kelly and Head of Trustees Friedman waited nearly a year before issuing an apology, which they should have done within weeks of the initial NY Times story. And when did they issue the apology? On a Friday, after school hours, before a holiday weekend. It reeks of an ill-conceived PR strategy that shreds any hint of authentic caring and sincerity. Pathetic. Kelly and Friedman should both be removed for their incompetence and for allowing the school's reputation to be irreparably damaged.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | Report this
HMAlum

Yes, they're consistent. For example, HM board's lie to try to hide the truth, 1993 version: "We will need a recording to take your report of sex abuse by Johannes Somary seriously"; HM board's lie to try to hide the truth, 2013 version: "The mediator will prepare an independent summary of information provided by victims at the mediation, which will provide the best insight available into what happened."

Thursday, May 30, 2013 | Report this
HMAlum

As confirmed in a press release today, the mediator now swears that HM never hired him to do anything as far as writing a public report. Kelly and Friedman lied when they wrote to the HM community that the mediator had agreed to provide a written summary of victim impact statements. Smoke-and-mirrors on 246th St.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 | Report this