On behalf of the Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees, I am updating you about the investigations of inappropriate off-campus sexual engagement between a former male seasonal coach and two female students.
These are serious matters.
We assure you that student safety is our priority, and we want to give you the opportunity to express any concerns and ask questions directly. Parents and guardians of students may contact NFA with questions and comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the start, our only concern has been assurance from the administration that the campus is safe. We have consistently received that assurance. Employees suspected of abusive conduct with students will be immediately barred from campus, and their employment terminated if such allegations are confirmed.
Law enforcement officials are continuing to examine whether actions taken by certain NFA employees while investigating this matter in April of 2017 should result in criminal prosecution. We understand that the focus of the investigation is whether the actions of NFA personnel complied with the requirement to report to the Department of Children and Families reasonable suspicion of abuse of a child.
In 2017, NFA conducted a two-day formal investigation into a former student’s involvement with the accused. The investigation included consideration for the involved student to be interviewed by a female NFA administrator in a private setting. Based on the statements of the student and the coach, the claims of suspected abuse were determined to be unsubstantiated; therefore, NFA did not report the matter to DCF. Unfortunately, we now know from recently published sworn police affidavits that the accused and the former student provided false statements to NFA staff.
In a statement released last week, NFA admitted that the management of the initial investigation raises legitimate questions. Those questions have and will continue to guide the Trustees and NFA administration in a thorough review of the school’s processes for reporting suspected abuse to state and local authorities.
NFA has been accused of attempting to hide the truth from the public. During the course of this investigation, our comments have intentionally been made carefully to -- most importantly -- protect the privacy of students; to cooperate with ongoing police and legal investigations, and to preserve the confidentiality of employees’ personnel matters as required by law.
NFA has fully and voluntarily cooperated with all official inquiries from law enforcement including access to computers and cell phones, internal documents and communications, and personnel interviews.
As Board Chair, I announced November 1 at the NFA Annual Corporators’ Meeting that the Trustees are conducting an independent investigation into the actions of NFA personnel relative to this matter. All share an interest in a speedy resolution; however, time must be weighed against the need for fair, thorough, and accurate findings. No tuition dollars, nor NFA Foundation dollars have been, nor will be, used for the Trustees’ investigation into this case or to fund any other legal expenses incurred by NFA. The law firm the Board has retained has asked for anonymity so that it can focus solely on the investigation.
In the meantime, as it should be and as you might expect, students are attending classes and going about their normal extra-curricular and athletic activities.
All NFA students have a right to a safe and fulfilling NFA experience. We assure you that the NFA Board takes these matters extremely seriously and that the safety and well-being of NFA students is our priority.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and we welcome your comments.