The President's Blog

Recent Allegations
Jim Hansen

 

Dear Members of the Hill-Murray Community:

I am writing to personally inform the Hill-Murray family about recent allegations involving the boy’s hockey program at our school. It is important that I directly address a few issues given the attention in the media.

First and foremost, Hill-Murray takes allegations of unwelcome behavior very seriously. We do not and will not tolerate offensive language or actions. The inherent disrespect these behaviors convey run counter to everything we stand for as a school, including our proud tradition of cultivating ethical young men and women in an inclusive and faith-based environment.

In the matter currently in the news, we immediately and thoroughly investigated the claims when they were brought to us in August of this year. We conducted over 18 initial interviews with players and staff.  Multiple meetings were held with coaches, faculty, students and the family involved. Through this investigation, we were able to substantiate some, but not all, of the student's claims. The school took action against the involved students.

The school’s investigatory findings were reviewed and critiqued. The Executive Committee of our Board, consisting of six independent members, reviewed our findings, interviewed the young men involved and assessed the results of a restorative justice meeting. The Committee issued a letter supporting, modifying and expanding the leadership team recommendations. At the close of our investigation, we provided our findings to the Maplewood police department which determined at the time that no further action was warranted.

It is because we take allegations of unwelcome behavior so seriously that we investigate these issues thoroughly and take appropriate action based on our findings.

As we worked through our process to address concerns and resolve this matter, the family asked Hill-Murray to sign a letter they had drafted for the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). Unfortunately, several assertions in the letter were not factual, and we could not in good conscience sign an inaccurate document.

Hill-Murray never objected to the former student's eligibility to participate as a varsity hockey player for his new school. We simply could not sign a letter containing false assertions about the school or our investigation. Hill-Murray’s goal—as confirmed in multiple electronic communications—was to not block the continuation of the young man’s athletic career wherever he chose to go to school.

The day Hill-Murray reconfirmed our position regarding the student’s ability to continue to play hockey with the MSHSL, the League ruled he would be eligible to play varsity hockey at his new school – a ruling we continue to support.

We are continuing to work with our legal counsel to resolve this matter and will keep you apprised of any developments. You can also be assured we are vigorously defending the school and leadership team against any claims that are factually inaccurate or legally improper.

Last summer, Hill-Murray began drafting a revised code of conduct for unwelcome behavior. The recent allegations did not prompt the school’s work on the code of conduct; rather, our work on the code is part of our ongoing effort to foster a healthy environment for our students.

In accordance with our school standards, Hill-Murray has established new penalties that exceed those required by the MSHSL. Our board has developed a new whistleblower policy to make it easier for community members to bring issues of unwelcome behavior to the attention of the Board of Trustees.

We have also revised the codes of conduct for players and parents and have required that each of our teams adopt leadership training modules as part of their team’s learning objectives. If you are part of our winter sports teams you have already heard about those policies at parent meetings.

On a personal note, as a former Hill-Murray student, I chose to return as President because I believe so deeply in our mission and the incredible young men and women we help shape. I am committed to continuing that mission in the months and years ahead.

I am deeply sorry for the negative attention this incident has caused our community and our leadership team. Please feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

James Hansen, ‘73

President  |  Hill-Murray School