Dear Ellington Parents and Guardians,
As we predicted before the airing this week of NBC4’s investigative report on allegations of sexual misconduct by a former Ellington faculty member in 2004 and 2013, the report was a painful reminder that our community must be ever more vigilant, cooperative and communicative and working together to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children entrusted to our care. That means school administrators and faculty, the DC Public School System, the Metropolitan Police, and Ellington’s parent and guardian community must all do everything possible to form a seamless web of watchfulness that does not permit child abuse to occur undetected. All of us have important roles to play in keeping our community safe.
For every student or community member who has been impacted by these reports, I again express my sympathy and thanks for your bravery in speaking up and coming forward. My hope is that within our parent community there will never be hesitation to alert the school when suspicions or rumors of inappropriate activity or relationships between students and Ellington employees occur.
The school’s role with respect to the information we receive from parents, students or staff is not only to turn that information over to authorities at DCPS and MPD, but to immediately act to remove students from situations that could be harmful to them. Harm elimination has been, and will remain, my first step in these situations. This can take the form of reassigning a student away from classes until an investigation of suspected inappropriate activity is completed, up to employee removal. The school does not, and should not, attempt to conduct criminal investigations, which is why simultaneous with removing a child from a potentially dangerous situation, we notify police so they can exercise their role.
I mentioned last week some of the measures I implemented after becoming principal in 2017, which included 1) modernizing our human resources program, and hiring an HR firm to help manage it, so that we have improved and searchable employee records; 2) hiring a school based Title IX coordinator to supplement and accelerate DCPS Title IX investigations; 3) creating a new app feature that enables students to anonymously report alleged sexual harassment or other behaviors that make them uncomfortable; and for those who may want to speak to a trusted adult, we appointed personnel of all genders with whom students could have confidential conversations; 4) initiating a number of educational programs to both develop student awareness of situations that are potentially dangerous to them, and processes that encourage and make it easier for students to safely report potential abuse or inappropriate activity; and 5) instituting several training sessions with faculty and staff regarding their responsibilities to prevent sexual misconduct or hostile environments in the school and to respond appropriately to any allegations or signs of such misconduct.
These are definable measures, but what is less measurable, but far more essential, is the absolute commitment of every member of our community to fully exercise our duty to be observant, attentive, and to put care for our children above all else.
While I do not know where the criminal investigations covered in this recent NBC investigation will lead, it raises important questions about whether Ellington, DCPS and most especially the MPD could have done something differently to protect our students. I thank the former Ellington students who have come forward and continue to do so, and welcome and commend Jodie Fleischer and the I-Team journalists for shining a light on this issue.
My goal has always been to learn how we can and must do better, and I hope that our entire community will be united in working together to achieve that goal.
Principal Sandi M. Logan