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Full transparency at private, public schools

It's a shocking and disturbing revelation – but sadly, one that across the country has become more and more common. On Tuesday, April 12, the Cranbrook Education Community sent out an email to alumni communicating that a Cranbrook graduate had informed the schools that while he attended school there he had experienced sexual misconduct by a former faculty member who worked at the schools from 1946-1961.

Upon learning of the allegation, the board of trustees and heads of administration said they immediately reviewed the situation in accordance with their established protocols, which in today's environment is a necessity, and then hired an independent investigator who is a nationally-recognized employment law expert. As she has begun her investigation, additional alumni from the time period have reported other incidents of sexual impropriety by this same former faculty member, who is now deceased. The school is encouraging anyone with information about an incident or situation during the time period of 1946-1961 involving sexual misconduct by any faculty or staff member at Cranbrook to get in touch with the special investigator.

We applaud Cranbrook Schools for its transparency on this heinous issue – and for the efforts to to safeguard against incidents of sexual misconduct. Yet, we must remember this is an allegation of an occurrence which occurred at the school over 60 years ago, and the communications director – who did not respond to an email or phone call to comment on the incident – and former administration have a track record of obfuscating incidents occurring in the present day. Unfortunately, when two Cranbrook Kingswood girls alleged they were sexually assaulted by a fellow Cranbrook student at a reported house party where it is believed about 100 youth gathered, not only did Cranbrook close the door on communications with the press – but completely blocked the ability of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office from adequately conducting an investigation. At the time, Cranbrook instead said it had done its own internal investigation of the party.

Things happen. Those are but two unfortunate incidents that have occurred on a campus known for educational excellence. Cranbrook Educational Community is a gleaming gem in the heart of southeast Michigan, and a treasure to be admired. Just as the 60-plus year old allegation is a tragic hiccup, every organization can face hits. It's not the punches you take – it's how you react to them that defines a person or organization. A lesson for all schools, both private and public.

Cranbrook should worry less about its marketing and reputation, which will transcend bumps in the road as long as it shines its headlights forward with candor and accountability.


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