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A clean slate: New leadership for St. Paul's

May 23. 2018 11:52PM

With the announcement that Michael Hirschfeld, rector of St. Paul’s School in Concord, is resigning at the end of this year comes an opportunity for the prestigious private school to rebuild its tattered reputation.

St. Paul’s is facing two state lawsuits, and one federal, from former students who allege the school failed to protect them from predatory faculty members and staff. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has launched a criminal investigation into decades of sexual harassment at the school.

In 2000, St. Paul’s conducted its own investigation into such allegations, but kept the report confidential for 17 years.

In 2008, the school fired a teacher for having an inappropriate relationship with a student, but gave that teacher a positive recommendation for a position at the Derryfield School.

Time after time, St. Paul’s has opted for secrecy over transparency, holding itself accountable only when misconduct become public knowledge.

A change in leadership brings the opportunity for a fresh start.

Sexual assault is a crime, and should be reported to the police. Lesser misconduct, such as inappropriate relationships between faculty and students, should be investigated and disclosed to the public.

In searching for its next rector, St. Paul’s should seek out a candidate willing to bring sunlight onto campus. St. Paul’s needs to earn the public’s trust.

Crime, law and justice Education Editorial Concord

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