Last week, after being publicly called out by female grads on allegations of repeated, observable and actively ignored misconduct by a longtime teacher and coach toward young women, the school finally announced that John Quinn would not be returning to the school this fall.
Quinn had been on paid administrative leave since March when two students bravely took to YouTube to speak forthrightly about the harassment they faced and about the long-term pain it caused them. The school began what it termed an independent third-party investigation by a law firm, and last week announced that Quinn’s contract was not being extended.
An email to the Fenwick community from the board chair cited “clear and unequivocal violations” by Quinn toward students. The statement promised the school would work to build a “safe and inclusive environment” and that the administration would put in place confidential reporting systems for students, strong governance and oversight, and undertake renewed training for staff and faculty.
All good, but only if it is proved, explained, and lived.
A century-old Catholic school, all-male until three decades ago, does not change readily. And Fenwick has failed to anticipate the depth of the cultural morass it has created, allowed and not consciously fought to change.
A few years back we heard the same issues of culture raised around race in terms of welcome, equity and fairness at Fenwick. The school, at that time, promoted a dean to a new post as director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Raymond Moland, is now leaving the school. Last week the school announced its longtime principal was stepping down and returning to the classroom. Hard to believe all this is unconnected.
And a statement from John Quinn’s attorney, his brother Thomas Quinn, claimed that the school is overstating the conclusions of its own report and that he was somehow “exonerated” of sexual misconduct charges by the independent report.
If Fenwick is going to start new, be transparent, and lead its way to a better future, then it is going to need to release at least relevant portions of the report quickly.
Finally, we close by saying that we believe Helen Quinn Pasin and Emma Seavey, the two former students. Fenwick’s actions going forward need to prove they also believe in the truth these women spoke.