Private K-12 School: Managing the Unthinkable

Overview

It was the last place many parents would think their children would fall victim to a rapist. But the administration of a private K-12 school found itself in that unthinkable position when a 27-year old teacher was arrested and charged with raping two young girls and molesting another.

Challenge

Stunned by the seriousness of the situation, the school board turned to CFM for crisis communications help.

Approach

CFM immediately established three guiding principles: 1) Be open and candid; 2) Address the fear and anger of parents; and 3) Begin a process to prevent this from happening again. Hours after learning of the arrest, school officials were the first to notify parents and staff of the charges and ongoing investigation. They were invited to an emergency meeting. To keep the commitment to be open and candid, CFM established an opportunity for the media to meet with school officials prior to the parent meeting.

Result

Once the situation was publicly discussed, it was time to turn attention to assuring the future safety of students. A parent and teacher task force was assembled to look at school policies and procedures and recommend changes. Hiring practices were examined and a new policy requiring background checks for all school personnel was implemented.