The Key School launches investigation into alleged inappropriate teacher-student relationships in the '70s and '80s

The Key School officials announced Friday a “third-party investigation” into allegations that some former faculty members had inappropriate relationships with students during the 1970s and 1980s.

Head of School Matthew Nespole and Board of Trustees President Joe Janney cited “recent social media activity” related to the allegations and promised a thorough and transparent investigation of any reported sexual misconduct.

“The School is deeply concerned by these reports and will investigate them immediately and without delay,” the school’s leaders said in a statement released to the school’s past and present parents, staff, board members and faculty, as well as alumni.

An online petition posted last week by 1976 graduate and Crownsville resident Carolyn Surrick, “Key School — We stand together,” said students, teachers, faculty and family have been affected by a “culture of silence” surrounding past sexual misconduct at the private school, which is located on a 15-acre campus in Hillsmere Shores.

Surrick, who said she is a survivor of misconduct at the school, was moved to write about the issue on her Facebook page and post the petition.

The Key School was established in 1958 and offers instruction to students from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The petition called for the school to address the “physical, emotional, and moral injury sustained by its students,” and to launch an investigation to ensure that safeguards are in place. As of Monday, more than 160 people signed the petition, many leaving comments saying they are former students or staff.

The support of those 160-plus people has been “transformative” for people who said they have suffered, Surrick said.

“I’m really optimistic that we survivors will be able to work with the school to a path of truth and reconciliation,” she said.

Director of Communications Irfan Latimer said the school’s investigation is in response to what they’ve seen on social media. Officials want to determine what took place in the past, she said, including what was reported, when, and what the school’s response was at the time.

The school’s website shows 645 students are enrolled at Key, hailing from 63 zip codes and eight countries.

Latimer said the school will hire a third party to conduct the investigation and hopes to have someone in place this week.

Anne Arundel County Police spokesman Marc Limansky said a detective met Friday with one person who brought forward concerns.

“Our detectives are currently trying to determine if anything criminal did occur and locate possible victims and witnesses,” Limansky said.

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