Statements From the Head of School
February 17, 2017
Because this matter is now before the court, I won’t be providing any further information about this case, which was filed on behalf of one of the former students referenced in the recent report from the Bucks County Investigating Grand Jury. This former student, who graduated in 2005, came forward in response to the letter in 2014 from Solebury School where we asked any student with any allegation or concerns to report it either to the school or the District Attorney. I have not reviewed the filing at this point. I and the members of the faculty, administration and staff at Solebury School have made extensive efforts since my arrival as Head in 2008 to strengthen our policies, procedures and training to ensure our students gain all of the benefits of a Solebury education in a safe and protective atmosphere. That is our top priority and we are vigilant in following those policies and looking for additional areas of improvement. The School’s Board of Trustees has been fully supportive of these efforts. As I have said previously, we strive to move forward with openness and integrity for the victims of abuse, for our entire community and for this institution that we care for so deeply.
Thomas G. Wilschutz
Head, Solebury School
February 15, 2017
To Members of the Solebury School Community:
As we communicated to you previously, the Bucks County Investigative Grand Jury that was first convened on March 6, 2015 released a 49-page report on February 1, 2017 summarizing the testimony it heard related to reports of past incidents of sexual abuse at Solebury School. One thing the report does not make clear is that in the summer of 2014, in keeping with the School’s current practices and commitment to the protection of children, the School initiated an inquiry into reports of abuse in our past, encouraged alumni and community members to contact law enforcement authorities and the School and, on its own initiative, shared all information it received with the Bucks County District Attorney’s office. The School fully cooperated with law enforcement officials and supported officials throughout their investigation.
In that report, John D. Brown '67, former head of Solebury School from 1989 to 2008, is named as an administrator who did not intervene, investigate, and protect the students in his care from instances of sexual abuse by faculty and/or staff cited in the Grand Jury report. John has had a long history with Solebury School and we acknowledge his many contributions to the School. In light of the information contained in the report, however, the Board of Trustees has determined that continuing to honor his service as an administrator is not in keeping with our School's values and the importance of our role as educators and trusted partners in the education of our students. In the coming weeks, therefore, those elements that honor John D. Brown's time as an administrator at Solebury School, including the name of the Athletic Center, will be removed.
The Board and the School’s leadership team intend for these actions to allow us to continue our path forward, support healing on the part of victims, and serve as a reminder of the imperative need to ensure that Solebury School remains a place where our students can learn and grow in a safe environment. We are currently reviewing all of the recommendations issued by the Grand Jury, many of which are already in place, evaluating our current policies and practices, and soliciting additional input from experts in child safety and victim's rights to further enhance standards of conduct that we have worked hard to develop and implement. While we have taken many significant steps over the past six years, we view our commitment to child welfare as ongoing and will always seek the most current and effective practices and initiatives to achieve that goal.
As always, please feel free to contact one of us if you would like to discuss these matters in more detail.
Thomas G. Wilschutz
Head, Solebury School
Chair, Board of Trustees
February 1, 2017
When we – at our initiative – first reported the incidents of historical sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities and encouraged anyone with information to come forward in 2014, we knew that we were putting in motion a process that could and has led us to today’s report. We believed then – and still believe – that this openness and candor was the right way for the school to proceed. While it is difficult and painful to read the report, the information that has been compiled adds to our examination of the past and provides insights for the future.
We are deeply disturbed that any Solebury student would have been the victim of sexual abuse and we again apologize to those former students who became victims. The individuals who committed these acts violated Solebury’s principles and values; their actions are indefensible. We deeply regret these transgressions and the resulting difficulties that the affected students have endured.
While we will review the report in more detail, it outlines some areas where the grand jury believes the school's prior leadership should have responded differently when they became aware of an allegation of sexual abuse. We acknowledge the grand jury’s view on these historical instances of abuse. Our focus continues to be on ensuring that we have the most comprehensive policies, procedures and training to protect the students who are in our care and we will review the recommendations the grand jury has made in those areas.