Park School leaders are investigating the conduct of a middle school teacher in the 1980s

The Park School is investigating “inappropriate physical contact” and the “purposeful, targeted, persistent emotional manipulation of a middle school student” by one of its teachers in the 1980s, school officials disclosed in a letter.

Dan Paradis, head of the independent school, and its board of trustees president Betsy Berner, wrote Thursday in message sent to the school community that the school has enlisted the help of an independent New York-based firm to uncover information about the alleged abuse. The teacher involved, who taught middle school, has been “deceased for a number of years,” according to the letter.

It is unclear for how long the alleged abuse occurred, or why the administration is looking into the situation at this time. The administration said an early review indicates that “a concern” was brought to school officials at the time of the alleged abuse, but the letter does not say what actions were taken then.

Park School spokesman Pete Hilsee said in an email Sunday, “Park is steadfastly committed to protecting the privacy of the person who came to the school administration to share their story recently, and, therefore, is not offering any additional information that may risk identifying that person to the public.

“Further, in not naming the particular former teacher that was involved, the school is committed to creating the opportunity for any individual to bring forth information of any potential misconduct, whether linked to this particular situation or not. The integrity and inclusiveness of this process is incredibly important to The Park School leadership.”

School officials provided few details in the letter.

“We write to you today to share some deeply distressing news we learned recently regarding the conduct of a Park School teacher from the past,” Paradis and Berner wrote in the letter. “In the 1980s, a Middle School teacher (who has been deceased for a number of years) engaged in the purposeful, targeted, persistent emotional manipulation of a Middle School student. Further, this individual perpetrated inappropriate physical contact.

“This conduct was unequivocally wrong, and the resulting harm was and is very real. Our preliminary review of school records indicates that a concern was brought to the school administration at the time. We plan to look more fully into what was shared, and what actions were taken.”

The school has tapped T&M Protection Resources to investigate and provide an opportunity for “open and honest disclosure.”

Paradis and Berner said the school is focused on what steps must be taken to address “past failings.”

“Our intention is to provide a safe, discreet, and independent resource for any member of the community who may have been subjected to, or may have knowledge of, misconduct by a Park School employee,” they wrote in the letter.

The school has not disclosed whether any additional victims or witnesses have come forward. They also have not said whether prosecutors are investigating.

Concerns can be reported by email to ParkSchoolofBaltimore@tmprotection.com or by phone to 646-445-7695.

Officials said they would report T&M’s findings to the school community.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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