November 2, 2020
To fellow members of the Episcopal Day School community:
I believe that it is important to ensure that each of you have full knowledge of the issues that were brought to your attention by EDS Board Chairman Frank Anderson’s letter yesterday evening which he sent to both you and the Metro Spirit media outlet on Facebook, and to correct some errors stated therein.
On August 14th, the family as mentioned in Anderson’s letter, my family, visited with the Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd regarding the discovery of some disturbing information concerning the past employment of the EDS Head of School, Dr. Ned Murray.
The information surrounded Dr. Murray’s past employment with the CEDU family of schools, and the practices at those schools which derived from the Synanon cult, which are documented in multiple print and online sources. These practices, such as forced physical labor, seclusion from family members, “attack therapy” or peer-driven indictments of students during staff-driven sessions coined as “Raps” and “Propheets,” as well as sessions of forced physical intimacy known as “Smushing” had horrific effects on a number of children who, as adults, have now come forth with their stories.
After Dr. Murray’s departure from Rocky Mountain Academy, the school was sold, and eventually shut down after a barrage of lawsuits brought by dozens of parents for abuse of children. While to be clear, these allegations did not primarily focus on direct abuse of students by Dr. Murray, they do call into question whether an individual who would remain in a program that inflicts these measures on children would be compatible with the values and mission of our church and school.
The information was initially shared privately with the Rector, given the obvious and mutual concern for avoiding damage to the reputation of the church, school, and his office. The Rector assured the family that he and the EDS Board of Trustees had been previously unaware of the prior connection between Dr. Murray and CEDU/Rocky Mountain Academy, and had he known, Murray would not have been hired. (This is contrary to the assertion of “full knowledge” of these facts since 2003 as recited in yesterday’s letter.)
The Rector immediately made Anderson, the Board Chairman, aware of the concerns. At that time, in further conversations with both the Rector and Anderson, assurances were given that EDS would quickly undertake a complete, arms length, and independent investigation of the matter. The family even offered to offset the costs of this in order to facilitate a thorough and complete investigation. The family then met with the Rector, Anderson, and the school’s lawyer Craig Smith on August 31st in the conference room of the parish hall. At that time Smith relayed that he had googled “RMA and Ned Murray” and not found anything.
Needless to say this was incredulous, and the family proceeded to share even more sources of information, including numerous online publications, a hard copy of the book “Dead Insane or In Jail, a CEDU Memoir” which detailed the practices at RMA, and the contact information for the lawyer in Sandpoint, Idaho who handled much of the abuse litigation.
For weeks, the Rector and Anderson repeatedly asked for the family’s patience and continued silence, giving multiple assurances that an independent investigation was in progress. On September 16th at 11:09 am Anderson texted “we actually started our investigation a few weeks ago and are making progress.” Continued assurances that an investigation was proceeding were received, despite no contact from an investigator or shared status or results.
On October 5th at 9:54 pm, Anderson later recanted that an investigation had been started at all, texting “…had we already launched a full investigation it would have been highly disruptive to both the school and the church…we cannot allow that to happen..” From yesterday evening’s letter, it appears that a mere internal review of information provided by Dr. Murray alone was being done during this time, rather than an actual third party investigation as indicated by both the Rector and Anderson. It is unclear at this time if the full board of trustees had been informed of the situation.
Once the allegations had been known to both Anderson and the Rector for eight weeks, with no apparent progress, a senior benefactor of the school and the church was informed of the situation, intervened, and convinced the Rector and Anderson to begin a professional investigation and to put Dr. Murray on leave pending the outcome. Following this, Dr. Murray sent parents of the school an email explaining his absence due to a litany of other causes, and appeared at least at one school event.
Again, ten weeks after the information was first reported, the family continued to seek some sort of update, and was ultimately told that the national law firm, Fisher Phillips, had been retained to review the matter, and that the family might be contacted towards the conclusion of that investigation, if at all. Given the amount of time that had passed with no apparent progress and total lack of transparency thus far, the information was shared with some other parents, so that they could educate themselves and come to an independent conclusion. It was not shared by the family with the Metro Spirit, which appears to have first published an article regarding the situation based entirely upon Dr. Murray’s letter published to parents last week, coupled with the Rector’s recently-announced retirement.
At this time, it appears that the investigation being conducted is a farce, intended to resolve in justifying Dr. Murray’s uninterrupted leadership at the school — as has happened in the past with a charge of a DUI and allegations of infidelity. It is disturbing that the Board Chair would respond in directing an open letter to local media attacking a family for reporting information which unquestionably presents concerns regarding the background and moral compass of the EDS headmaster.
As an aside, the family referred to is not disgruntled but instead a very, very concerned and involved family; in fact we are 35+ year members of Good Shepherd, a former board member of EDS, former fundraising Co-Chairs for the initial remodel and expansion of the Walton Way campus, contributors to earlier and current capital campaigns, and former student parents and present grandparents. There is genuine concern over the apparent lack of candor and transparency when provided with credible information warranting investigation.Hugh Long
It begs the question: Given the leadership history of our head of school, and the activities he — at the very least — condoned in his 10 or so years at RMA; is he of such character as to be entrusted with the safety and well being of our children, grandchildren, and reputation of the Episcopal Day School and Church of the Good Shepherd?