Nichols School opens investigation after reports of inappropriate relationship in early 1990s

Posted at 2:08 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 14:08:10-04

The Nichols School has opened an independent investigation after learning after allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student in the early 1990s.

"Today we informed Nichols families, alumni, faculty and staff that we recently received a letter from a Nichols alumna that detailed a sexual relationship between her and a Nichols teacher in the early 1990s," said Board of Trustees Chairman Jeremy Jacobs, Jr. "Subsequently, we received a second letter from a Nichols alumna in the same class supporting the events detailed in the first. We took the letters seriously, and moved quickly to open an independent investigation. The faculty member in question left Nichols more than a decade ago."

The Nichols school, located on Amherst Street in Buffalo near Delaware Park, has 560 students in grades five through 12. The non-denominational school has thousands of alumni in the Western New York region.

"The school retained a Washington, D.C.-based firm experienced in investigating school-based sexual misconduct," Jacobs said. "Experts from the firm have begun an investigation into the allegations. We asked everyone in the Nichols community who might have knowledge of any inappropriate past or present faculty-student relationship to contact the investigator."

Jacobs also says board and school leaders will be sensitive in dealing with these reports and will move quickly and transparently to get to the bottom of the issue.

"We want to assure the community that we are committed to an honest self-examination of any issues that arise through this process," Jacobs said.

The school says it has had a full-time, on-campus counselor since 2013 to help students with any challenges they may face. The school also has a five-teacher Wellness Core Group in early intervention around health and mental wellness. Students are also assigned to an advisory group that meets weekly, meet with their class-level dean twice a week and have formal, mandatory wellness classes for grades five through nine.

The school says faculty and staff are also reminded to maintain a professional relationship with students at the beginning of each school year. Faculty and staff are also reminded to report any harassment or misconduct concerns.