Student Safety and Well-Being

Leading up to and following the release of MTO's initial report in June 2021, the School and Board have taken a number of actions to improve our prevention of and response to sexual misconduct and demonstrate our commitment to accountability and the well-being and safety of our students.

 
Click on the categories below to learn more about our work within prevention, including policies, education and awareness; community care and support; board oversight and accountability; and the expert safety partners helping to shape and advance our efforts.


List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Prevention: Policies, Education & Awareness

    POLICIES

    -    The School's boundary guidelines, harassment and sexual misconduct policies, and disciplinary process and policies have been revised and strengthened in consultation with industry experts to ensure they continue to align with the most current best practices.
     
    -    The School’s sexual misconduct reporting process has been updated and expanded, increasing the channels for reporting sexual misconduct and boundary violations within the community, including options for reporting to a third-party (outside of Thacher) and anonymous reporting. 

    -    The School has further clarified the mandatory reporting obligations of its employees for any reports or reasonable suspicion involving potential child abuse or neglect.

    -    The School has formalized its protocol for providing supportive measures for students who report sexual misconduct to the School and connecting them with resources, both within and outside of the Thacher community. 

    -    Thacher has established an agreement with existing partner programs, including Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki and School Year Abroad, to ensure information about the conduct of participants is shared.

    -    Thacher has strengthened practices for handling student discipline for serious sexual misconduct (including students who have withdrawn or left campus as a result of such allegations) to address issues including, for example, communication with a student’s subsequent schools or colleges, awarding of diplomas, and exclusion from future School events and activities.

    -    Thacher’s policies and most recent updates have been vetted by our external student safety partners. All policies in the student safety realm are and will continue to be prominently publicized to current and incoming employees as well as to students/families via the Student/Parent and Employee Handbooks.

    - Each student, parent, and employee (including part-time and contract employees) must annually review and affirm their understanding of these policies and procedures, reporting protocols, and support resources. 

    EDUCATION & AWARENESS

    -    The School conducts multiple training sessions on disparate aspects of sexual misconduct prevention, including boundary guidelines, reporting, trauma-informed response and student support, annually for all adults, including sessions prior to our students’ arrival at the start of the school year. 

    -    The School’s sex education curriculum has expanded and evolved to include a term-long focus—reflecting the full spectrum of gender and sexual identities—on health and wellness, prevention and response to sexual harassment and sexual assault, healthy relationships and boundaries, affirmative consent, and self-care in 9th grade; 10th, 11th, and 12th graders meet as a class several times annually to build on their skills and awareness. 

    -    To promote students’ ongoing understanding of how to report an instance of interpersonal harm and how to seek support resources, information has been posted throughout campus, including in all dorms. 

    -    Recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes have been updated and expanded to reflect the School’s commitment to student safety to ensure that new members of the community have a clear understanding of and share our commitment to the policies, procedures, and ethos that reinforce this commitment. 

    -    The School has enhanced its existing practice of conducting background checks on every new hire, intensified efforts to identify individuals reported to have engaged in sexual misconduct, and strengthened our policies on communication to potential future employers regarding departing employees.  

    -    The School conducts periodic campus climate surveys to better understand students’ perceptions and experiences, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and measure progress on sexual misconduct prevention and response.


List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Support & Care for Our Community

    -    The School has improved and expanded student counseling resources and confidential access to counseling resources, as well as worked to destigmatize the use of mental health services. 

    -    Thacher students now have access to a range of wellness and therapeutic options, including professional counselors with various backgrounds and expertise, such as LGBTQIA+, sports psychology, nutrition, and other specialists, who come to campus and are also available by remote/telehealth on a regular basis to meet with students individually and to hold support groups around specific topics. 

    -    All students have been provided and will continue to receive training from student life and DEI faculty, as well as campus counselors, on healthy ways to navigate stress, when to involve an adult, and available support resources. 

    -    In an incident involving sexual misconduct, the school will not pursue disciplinary action against any victims of sexual misconduct for violations of other rules.

    -    The School has established a student support team comprised of the Directors of Student Life, Studies, Student Support and the Health Center, as well as a member of the counseling team. They meet regularly to review and develop action plans to support individual students who may be struggling in various capacities. 

    -    Thacher opened a Wellness Center in the 2021-2022 school year and has continued to expand community programming in support of student health and wellness. 

    -    A search for a full-time Director of Counseling and Wellness is underway. 

    -    Student schedules were revised to promote healthy community interactions and student support and wellness.

    -    Thacher created a support fund to provide assistance with therapy related to the trauma of sexual misconduct experienced during a student's time at Thacher. The fund, which has been in place since June 2021, is confidentially and independently managed and operated by RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S., and by an independent third-party claims administrator. 

    -    Where applicable, individuals credibly accused of serious sexual misconduct identified in MTO’s investigation have been banned from campus.


List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Board Oversight and Accountability

    -    The Board established a standing committee on Student Safety in the fall of 2021 that is providing concentrated Board-level proactive attention, oversight, and leadership and working with the Administration to ensure that our students are safe, including from sexual misconduct, and are in an environment that promotes physical and mental health. Among this committee’s responsibilities and charges are the following:

    -    Oversight of Thacher’s student safety policies, protocols, and training (including sexual assault, harassment, and bullying).
    -    Real-time oversight into sexual misconduct reports made by Thacher community members.
    - Ongoing assessment of the School’s culture to reflect the needs of all students, including the climate for reporting, attitudes toward boundaries and sexual abuse and adjustment of policies and procedures based upon the information received.
    - The creation, implementation, and updating of student protection practices to ensure: 1. An annual review of student abuse prevention policies; 2. Regular updates of the policies as needed to conform with best practices; and, 3. Abuse prevention policies, procedures, protocols, documentation, and data are centralized, meet all confidentiality and disclosure requirements, and are easy to update, review, and share, as appropriate.

    -    The Board received training on the survivor experience and healthy boundaries, including learning directly from survivors in the Thacher community and beyond, in 2021 and 2022.

    -    The Board conducted external and facilitated self-reviews of its governance and is in the process of making improvements.

    -    The Board is continuing to provide oversight of the supplemental report process.

    -    Following the conclusion of MTO’s investigation, which will include the release of a supplemental report, the law firm of Van Dermyden Makus will be taking over the investigation of allegations of adult-on-student sexual misconduct in the Thacher community. Selected by the board in 2021, Van Dermyden Makus is one of the leading law firms in conducting workplace and campus investigations in California, and our designated lead investigator, partner Liz Paris, has extensive experience with Title IX sexual misconduct claims and is trained in trauma-informed interviewing. MTO and Van Dermyden Makus will be liaising closely to ensure a smooth transition. Liz can be contacted at lp@vmlawcorp.com or 800-515-2594.

    -    If Van Dermyden Makus determines that future reports of misconduct meet the same principles of disclosure that MTO and the Board established at the outset of their investigation, those incidents will be communicated to the Thacher community.


List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • ∨ Our External Safety and Support Partners

    Learning Courage
    Learning Courage is a nonprofit membership organization that works with schools to reduce incidents of sexual misconduct, improve responses, and support healing. Last year they conducted workshops and sessions with faculty, staff, administration, the Board of Trustees, and alumni, and continue to support the School in preparation for the release of the supplemental MTO report. 

    Praesidium
    Praesidium is a leading innovator of scientifically based solutions designed to transform the way organizations approach the prevention of sexual abuse. All Thacher faculty and staff are required to participate in annual trainings focusing on Mandated Reporting and the role of adults in supporting and keeping students safe. 

    Relation-Shift 
    Relation-Shift’s mission is to help make schools places where every student can thrive; teachers are empowered to prevent and respond to sexual bullying and harassment; and administrators are successful in their implementation of policies to create safe, healthy environments for their students. Among other engagements, Relation-Shift has conducted workshops with Thacher parents and students on healthy relationships, and with faculty, staff, and administrators on how to prevent and respond to student-to-student misconduct in ways that are trauma-informed and follow best practices.

    RAINN
    Thacher has created a support fund to provide assistance with therapy related to the trauma of sexual misconduct experienced during a student's time at Thacher. The fund is confidentially and independently managed and operated by RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S.




Funded Therapeutic Support

In partnership with the Thacher administration, the board of trustees created a support fund to provide assistance with therapy related to the trauma of sexual misconduct experienced during a student's time at Thacher. The fund is confidentially and independently managed and operated by RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S., and by an independent third-party claims administrator. Neither RAINN nor the third-party claims administrator will share any personally identifying information of those accessing the fund with the School or with Thacher's Board of Trustees. Alumni who wish to access these services are encouraged to call RAINN directly through either the toll-free hotline at 844-908-4224 or the local number for international callers at 805-243-1692.

Support Resources

  • Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN): rainn.org
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center: www.nsvrc.org
  • Ventura County Family Justice Center: 805 652 7655 / vcfjc.org

The Ventura County Family Justice Center is available to assist all those who have been impacted by these painful events. The VCFJC is a collaborative community response to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder and dependent adult abuse, human trafficking, hate crime and other violent crimes. All services are free of charge, confidential, and available whether you have reported to law enforcement or not. The VCFJC can be reached at (805) 652-7655. 
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.