Message from the Head of School
Dear Penn Charter Community,
As promised, I am writing to follow up on my earlier correspondence about Black Lives Matter and social media posts from OPCs regarding sexual harassment and violence.
Since my letter two days ago, we have learned of additional social media posts about racism and sexual misconduct, including several current or former students who posted about sexual harassment or assault by PC students. The pain expressed by our students and graduates in these posts is heartbreaking.
In addition, one of the posts raised concerns about the conduct of a current Penn Charter employee. Please know that we are carefully reviewing the information being shared publicly and we are following our school policies to guide our response to this and all reports. That response includes seeking additional information from students or other individuals about specific concerns raised on social media or directly to the school.
In addition, as part of Penn Charter's interest in better understanding the culture and climate our students experience within our school, we encourage all PC students, families, alumni, staff and faculty to share your experiences or perspectives about race, sex, gender or other concerns that impact(ed) your physical or psychological safety or your experience at PC.
We are providing several opportunities to be heard, including anonymous options, in hopes of receiving candid feedback. These opportunities augment, and are not intended to replace, the listening sessions, Meetings for Worship, and group and interpersonal dialogue already underway. Many of us have been speaking with current students, OPCs, parents and different faculty work groups.
Here are three additional ways you can enter into this dialogue and speak your truth:
Contact the school directly. You can share your experiences with any of the following people:
- Assistant Head of School Beth Glascott, email@example.com or 215-844-3460 ext. 121;
- Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Antonio Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-844-3460 ext. 161;
- The counselors in each division are also available: Upper School, Elizabeth Hitschler, email@example.com 215-844-3460 ext. 205; Middle School, Katie Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-844-3460 ext. 352; Lower School, Lisa Reedich, email@example.com or 215-844-3460 ext. 171. Please feel free to contact any of the individuals listed here, regardless of whether you or your student is in that division.
Contact the following external professionals, whom we have engaged to create a space for individuals to come forward who might wish to maintain their anonymity or report to an individual outside of the school:
- Sherry Coleman is a nationally recognized DEI practitioner with more than 30 years experience in and with independent schools as a teacher, administrator and consultant. Dr. Coleman works as a coach, advisor and organizational specialist with a lens for diversity, equity and anti-racism training. She has worked nationally on equity and inclusion initiatives through training, structural and group dynamics. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jennifer Bullock is a psychotherapist with extensive experience offering trauma-informed treatment of adolescents and their families and is a consultant with forensic and clinical expertise in childhood sexual abuse. Contact information: 215-957-5073 or email@example.com.
Share information online, anonymously or with your contact information, at this feedback survey. The information in this survey will be monitored by Sherry Coleman and Jennifer Bullock, the external professionals named above.
All information gathered will be shared, individually and in the aggregate, with task forces created to address issues of race; issues of gender equity, consent and sexuality education; and other issues that surface. The names of the individuals who contact the school, the counselors, or the external professionals will not be shared with the task forces. Specifically, the work of the task forces will address core questions, including:
- how can we better value and respect our Penn Charter students, including students of color;
- how can we best foster an environment that promotes respect and teaches students how to prevent and report sexual harassment and sexual violence;
- are there gaps in our curricular or co-curricular offerings regarding key social issues our students routinely confront; and,
- how can we reinforce care and support for students and community members impacted by racial or sexual harassment or violence and instill responsibility and accountability for individuals who violate school policies or the core tenets of our Quaker values.
As a reminder, all Penn Charter employees are required by Pennsylvania law and Penn Charter policy to report suspected abuse and neglect of a minor. We encourage PC community members to similarly report any potential abuse, neglect or criminal conduct to child protective services and local law enforcement authorities. You may report suspected abuse or neglect of a minor to the Pennsylvania ChildLine and Abuse Registry at 800-932-0313 or electronically through the Child Welfare Portal. Consistent with our practice, we will share information gathered in this review as required by state law.
Seeking truth, making amends, and making change is the difficult work that we must do as a school.
It is our hope that information gathered through this work will both acknowledge the pain of those adversely affected and determine a way forward to inform our actions, adjust our curriculum and improve the culture of Penn Charter.
Darryl J. Ford
Head of School