1. Education

Prep School Scandals

A Look Into the Less-Than-Perfect World of Private Schools


Upper Canada College

Upper Canada College

Photo © Robert Kennedy
Every school, public or private, has had its share of unpleasant news, or what the tabloids call scandals. Despite everybody's best efforts, iron-clad contracts and well-intentioned honor codes, hazing occurs, students commit suicide, inappropriate behavior on the part of professional staff comes to light and school funds are misspent. These are just some of the kinds of public relations nightmares every prep school administrator dreads.

How the individual schools deal with these crises is the measure of their competency and honesty. One thing is most apparent: private schools have recognized how important it is to deal with bad news promptly. They know that the Internet and cell phones will spread rumors as fast as you can text your classmates. They also know that members of the media are lurking just waiting for some juicy morsel about an elite school to surface so they can fan the flames of indignation and mock self-righteousness.

Here's a brief look at some incidents which have occurred in private schools over the years.

Incoming Students at The Landon School Caught in Embarrassing Activities

Incoming Landon boys apparently were creating a list of girls they knew in a bizarre sort of draft selection process. Naturally the girls' parents were upset.

Rector of St. Paul's School Retires

The Rector of St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, retired after an outcry regarding what many alumni considered to be excessive expenditures on renovations to the Rector's housing as well as a lavish compensation package for himself and his assistant.

In the fall of 2004 St. Paul's also had to deal with a drowning and a hazing incident in addition to all the controversy over excessive spending and the investigation by the New Hampshire attorney general.

New Sex Scandal Hits Selwyn House

I wrote about this story in May 2008. This incident hit home as this Montreal boys' school occupies the building which was Westmount Senior High School when I attended it in 1960-61.

Counterfeit Currency Scheme Uncovered at Lower Canada College

It seems that internet gambling debts forced some LCC students to print money to cover their balance.

Academy X

Horace Mann teacher Andrew Trees was fired for his fictional account of life in a private school, Academy X.

Five Hockey Team Members Expelled from Milton Academy

Milton Academy rocked by expulsions is a Boston.com story detailing how five members of the Milton Academy hockey team were expelled for receiving oral sex from a 15 year old sophomore girl.

School for Scandal

Groton was rocked by accusations of sexual abuse and hazing in this 2002 story reported on ABCNEWS.

Death of Student at The Hill School

Suicide scatters grief and guilt in every direction. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the close-knit world which is a boarding school community. The headmaster and staff dealt with this very sad incident with compassion and sensitivity.

Upper Canada College Teacher Found Guilty of Sex Charges

It was a sad day for UCC when former master Doug Brown was found guilty of sexually abusing 18 former students.

Parents Sue Miss Porter's School Over Expulsion

At a Prep School, the Gloves Are Off details what happened when a prestigious Connecticut girls' school expelled a senior student.

Parents Sue Conserve School Trustees

Read Conserve School Changes From 4 Year High School to 1 Semester Model to understand how the economic downturn of 2009 has wreaked havoc on one private school's endowment to the point where the trustees are changing the school's business model. The parents of current four year high school students were not happy with that decision and have sued the trustees.

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