Cites family demanding termination of Headmaster
Sunday evening Frank Anderson, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Day School, released a statement addressed to Members of the Episcopal Day School Community regarding “a matter involving our community and our Head of School, Dr. Ned Murray.”
A copy of the correspondence was forwarded to the Metro Spirit by the school.
Anderson writes that, due to “what appears to be a social media campaign” the school feels the need to address the “matter” brought to the attention of the Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd (Rector Robert Fain, who abruptly announced his retirement within the past few weeks) and the Board Chair by “a family” at the start of the school year.
This “family” demands Murray be terminated.
Anderson explains that prior to Headmaster Murray being hired by EDS, he served two stints at the Rocky Mountain Academy for a total of ten years, first as an English teacher, then team leader and eventually Headmaster from 1994-1997.
Anderson states, “RMA was a therapeutic boarding school located in Idaho that served approximately 200 at-risk students.”
Anderson states that he, along with Rector Fain and the school’s outside council, conducted an investigation “which included an overview of publicly available material and joint interviews with RMA’s Chief Operating Officer, Clinical Director, a former RMA student, and of course Dr. Murray.“
The results of their investigation were presented to the EDS Governance and Executive Committees on October 8. Anderson writes “No credible evidence was uncovered during that review to suggest that Dr. Murray was involved in any wrongful conduct at RMA.”
Nevertheless, on October 16th, Fisher Phillips, a national law firm specializing in employment matters, “Labor and employment law is all we do”, was engaged to conduct an “independent and more fulsome investigation.”
“Ned will continue to work from home during the pendency of the investigation.”
The Chairman’s letter in its entirety:
November 1, 2020
All Saints Day
Dear Members of the Episcopal Day School Community,
I am writing today on behalf of our Board of Trustees to share information regarding a matter involving our community and our Head of School, Dr. Ned Murray.
At the start of the school year, a family brought concerns to the Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Board Chair about Dr. Murray’s prior employment at Rocky Mountain Academy (RMA) over 23 years ago. The family felt (and continues to feel) very strongly that Dr. Murray’s involvement with RMA makes him unfit to serve as our Head of School and therefore that he should be terminated. To be clear, no allegations have been made that Dr. Murray engaged in any misconduct during his 17 years at EDS or his prior 6 years at the Baylor School.
By way of background, RMA was a therapeutic boarding school located in Idaho that served approximately 200 at-risk students (grades 6 – 12). Dr. Murray worked as an English teacher at RMA from 1985-88. Ned then accepted a position as an English teacher with St. Andrews in Sewanee for the academic year 1989-90 and returned to RMA as a team leader from 1990-94 and then as Headmaster from 1994-97. After leaving RMA in 1997, Dr. Murray served as the Associate Headmaster of the Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN from 1997 – 2003, before becoming our Head of School in 2003. EDS engaged an independent consultant to assist with the search in 2003, including soliciting and evaluating resumes, conducting interviews and guiding and facilitating background checks. Dr. Murray’s prior employment and positions with RMA were fully known to the Search Committee and he remains extremely proud of the work he did and the children he served during his years at RMA. Since leaving RMA, Dr. Murray earned a M.Ed. in 1999 from UT Chattanooga and a D.Min. in 2014 from Virginia Theological Seminary.
We take any information that questions any educator’s conduct, past or present, very seriously. The Rector and Board Chair had several communications and discussions with the family and the Rector fully apprised the Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia and the incoming Interim Rector regarding this matter. Over the following weeks, with the assistance of the School’s outside counsel, the Rector and Board Chair endeavored to learn more about RMA and Dr. Murray’s role and service at RMA, which included an overview of publicly available material and joint interviews with RMA’s Chief Operating Officer, Clinical Director, a former RMA student, and of course Dr. Murray. The results of this review were presented to the EDS Governance and Executive Committees on October 8, 2020 followed by the full Board on October 13, 2020.
No credible evidence was uncovered during that review to suggest that Dr. Murray was involved in any wrongful conduct at RMA. However, given the breadth and vagueness of the allegations, the sheer volume of information regarding therapeutic boarding schools including RMA and its affiliated schools which is now publicly available, and the intensity of the family’s demands for Dr. Murray’s termination, both Committees and the full Board approved proceeding with engaging Fisher Phillips, a national law firm specializing in employment matters, to conduct an independent and more fulsome investigation. Dr. Murray fully supported this decision. Fisher Phillips was formally retained on October 16, 2020 and the investigation is in process and expected to conclude within approximately two weeks.
Our desire was to share all of this information with the community following the conclusion of the independent investigation and the Board’s final decision regarding this matter. Unfortunately, this matter has now been raised for discussion through what appears to be an attempted social media campaign. This is obviously extremely disappointing and makes it necessary to update the community regarding this matter prematurely. We will report to you once the investigation has been concluded and the Board has had the opportunity to review the findings and render its decision. Ned will continue to work from home during the pendency of the investigation.
Although it is impossible to predict how this matter will proceed over the following weeks, I can assure you that the Board will do what it believes to be in the best interest of EDS. In doing so, EDS will continue to be guided by Christian principles, which include being fair to and respecting all members of our community.
If you have any questions regarding Dr. Murray’s work at RMA, please feel free to reach out to him or me to discuss directly. Dr. Murray welcomes the opportunity to clear up any concerns and misunderstandings that have been raised and has been more than happy to voluntarily answer any questions about his time at RMA.
Please keep EDS and all involved in your prayers.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Episcopal Day School