TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - In response to the investigation alleging misconduct at Maumee Valley Country Day School, the school has released the following statement:
A Letter from the Head of School to the Maumee Valley Country Day School Community
Dear Families and Friends,
Because of our commitment to protect the privacy of all members of the school community, we have taken a cautious approach addressing the often spurious, false and malicious claims by a very few members of our basketball community. In the last two weeks, however, the Zeller and Kynard families have launched an aggressive media campaign filled with misleading, and often outright false statements. Their statements have been injurious to the school’s reputation and have disrupted our ability to provide a positive and nurturing learning environment for our students, teachers, and families. Their insistent repetition of discredited statements constitutes harassment of our coaches, members of our administrative team and our board of trustees. The children of our coaches have been made to feel angry and hurt at the attacks on their fathers. We cannot allow these attacks to continue unaddressed.
One of the most repeated falsehoods, that is understandably upsetting to our community, is that members of our coaching staff have shown members of our basketball team an inappropriate video, and that the School has done nothing about it. This is simply not true.
In January 2017, a basketball player told a teacher that he had been shown an inappropriate image in the locker room by one of the coaches. He stipulated that he didn’t want anyone to know he was the one who reported the incident and he didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. In addition, he did not name the “coach.” The teacher immediately reported this incident to the Head of Upper School.
My team investigated the student’s claim and the identity of the person who was accused of showing inappropriate material was determined. This teenager was a friend of some of our players and is not now, and never has been, a coach or assistant coach. Even though he denied showing the image, we immediately banned him from all team activities. This is the only allegation of this nature and it was dealt with immediately and decisively.
In the meantime, throughout last spring I was having regular meetings with a couple of parents who were complaining about their students’ roles on the team. They raised concerns about playing time and coaching strategies, and they complained about other players taking too many shots. Neither parent, including Lincoln Kynard, an assistant coach on the team at the time and father of one of the students, raised any concerns about inappropriate material being shown.
Since this time, we have spent countless hours meeting with three, sometimes four, concerned parents, listening to their complaints and doing our best to address them. We have held several meetings with players and listened to their concerns. As a response to some of their concerns, we took a variety of actions, from elevating the role of the team captains to facilitate better communication, to reducing the number of coaches on the bench while also adding a veteran varsity coach to assist Varsity Coach Rob Conover. At every turn, we have done all we could to help these families and the community move forward.
When complaints continued into the Fall, culminating in the anonymous letter sent to our entire community, we took the extraordinary action of hiring an independent investigator, a considerable expenditure for the School. An education lawyer, Margaret Lockhart, invited all basketball families from grades 7 through 12 to meet with her, looked at all allegations raised, and concluded that the School had listened to parent concerns and, when needed, had taken appropriate actions. In addition, she said that “Many students and parents reported having a very positive experience in basketball last year and spoke highly of the coaching staff.”
In a related but separate incident, a student has recently appeared on television to discuss a disciplinary action taken by the School in response to a rules violation. I cannot tell you how dismayed I was to hear him misrepresent what occurred in that meeting. I will not get into the details of what was said in that private meeting at the School, but I will tell you that the meeting was held following all the well-established protocols of our restorative justice approach to discipline, and because this was a first offense, it was a “teachable moment” and no punishment was given.
I know that the allegations made by this small group of parents have been serious and alarming to all, including me, which is why we have spent so much time trying to understand and address them. It is worth noting, however, that in spite of their use of social media to stir up anger and fear in our community and to rally others to their cause, the many other members of the Maumee Valley basketball family have not joined in. If you go to practices and games, you will meet the families who respect and value the tremendous work that the coaches are doing for our students.
You may have read that our coaches have filed a lawsuit against this group of parents. This extraordinary action was taken by the coaches in an attempt to stop the public attacks on their character and to protect their reputations. The School is not party to this suit; however, we are monitoring it closely. Many parents have asked why the School is not taking legal action or removing the families from the School. We do not believe that a school should punish students for the behavior of their parents, but we are sensitive to the harm that is being done to our community, and will continue to explore all options. I am proud of the coaches for sticking with the program and standing by the students. It would have been easy for any of them to walk away-- yet they have persevered despite these vicious attacks.
In my over forty years in education I have had to deal with unhappy and angry parents, and at times we have had to agree to disagree. But I have never been subjected to the kind of destructive public display of anger, filled with malicious misinformation and half-truths, that are currently aimed at dividing our community and destroying all that we have worked to build. Our school continues to be a warm, welcoming, and nurturing environment for all students. That is, and always has been, our top priority. We have the most dedicated and caring faculty and staff of any school, anywhere, who work tirelessly to ensure that students are inspired to learn and grow. Our program has earned a national reputation for excellence and innovation, and our graduates are advancing to great schools and doing amazing things. We cannot lose focus on all the wonderful things that are happening at our school.
We need your support in the face of these malicious attacks. If you love your school and your teachers, speak up. Let people know. Use your voice and your social network to spread the word. We need not name call, or spread false truths or share misleading innuendo. Let’s just celebrate and share all the incredible things that go into a Maumee Valley experience.
As always, if you have any thoughts or concerns, I’d love to hear from you.
Head of School