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June 18, 2019

Dear Indian Springs School Community,

As you know, over the past year and a half, we have encouraged our community to notify
school leadership about any and all concerns related to educator sexual misconduct at Indian
Springs School. We initiated this review in December 2017 in the context of a larger national
conversation about educator sexual misconduct at independent schools. From the outset, our
primary objectives have been to: understand our past; acknowledge and apologize to former
Indian Springs students harmed by educator sexual misconduct; and do all we can to maintain
the safest possible living and learning environment for current and future students.

In July 2018, we shared with our community that Indian Springs had retained the
nationally respected law firm of Jackson Lewis to investigate historical reports of educator
sexual misconduct at our school. The firm has concluded its review and has provided to the
Board a report summarizing their findings as of April 2019.

During the course of the investigation, we also worked closely with David Wolowitz at
McLane Middleton, another law firm with a depth of experience counseling independent
schools. David and his team have advised Indian Springs regarding historical educator sexual
misconduct and recommended strategies and best practices for strengthening policies,
procedures, and training to supplement what we are already doing on campus to encourage a safe
and supportive school culture. Indian Springs’ legal counsel, Mark Boardman, of Boardman,
Carr, Petelos, Watkins, & Ogle, P.C., has also counseled us on ways in which we can continue to
promote student health and wellbeing on campus.

To assist in our community’s understanding of the findings of the Jackson Lewis report,
the school’s responses to the alleged incidents at the time, and our actions going forward, this
letter is organized into five sections – Investigation, Factors Considered, Historical Educator
Sexual Misconduct, Policies and Procedures, and Next Steps.

We recognize that it is important for our school and our community to address the
past openly and honestly. To that end, we are deeply appreciative of all who reached out to us
and participated in the review, and we offer our most sincere apologies to those former students
who were affected by misconduct that occurred during their time at Indian Springs. We hope
that they and their families have felt heard and supported throughout this process.

Throughout their investigation, the Jackson Lewis team relied on the definition of
“educator sexual misconduct,” as found in Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing
Literature (U.S. Department of Education 2004,

Behavior of a sexual nature, which may constitute professional misconduct and includes
not only conduct that would amount to sexual abuse of a minor under current state
criminal codes, but also any sexual relationship by an educator with a student, regardless
of the student’s age; with a former student under the age of eighteen (18); with a former
student (regardless of age) who suffers from a disability that would prevent consent in a
relationship. This broad definition of “educator sexual misconduct” extends to any
activity directed towards establishing a sexual relationship by an educator, e.g., sending
intimate letters, engaging in a sexualized dialogue with a student in person or through
emails, text messages or telephone calls, or dating a student.

In compiling their report, Jackson Lewis interviewed approximately 30 individuals,

including current and former faculty, administrators, alumni, and other related third parties. All
of us at Indian Springs are grateful for the honesty and courage of those who agreed to
participate in these interviews. We recognize it must have been extremely difficult to come
forward, as reliving past situations can be particularly upsetting.

As part of the investigative process, Jackson Lewis, in assessing credibility, considered

witness demeanor, the opportunity and ability the witness had to see or hear about the events
reported, the accuracy of his or her memory, the consistency of testimony with known or
admitted facts, and witness motivation or bias. Jackson Lewis also reviewed personnel and
alumni records and previous investigatory reports of faculty and staff sexual misconduct to
analyze how those historical accusations had been treated by Indian Springs, to assess the
credibility of such allegations, and to determine whether those previous allegations had been
appropriately addressed.

Factors Considered

Like other independent schools that have confronted past allegations of educator sexual
misconduct, we developed a thorough process to consider each situation before disclosing any
finding publicly. Given the significant impact that publicly naming a former faculty or staff
member, or describing misconduct but not naming an individual, will no doubt have on survivors
and our community as a whole, we carefully considered the following factors regarding Jackson
Lewis’ determinations for each allegation:

 whether the investigators found the allegations credible;

 whether there are multiple allegations of misconduct from multiple students against an
accused faculty or staff member;
 whether there is substantive corroboration for a finding of alleged misconduct, such as a
witness, documentary evidence, admission, or information from other independent
 whether there is a potential current risk to students at any school or to the public, and if
the individual is still working in schools or with children;
 whether naming the individual could negatively impact civil or criminal litigation
involving accused educators; and
 whether the misconduct would violate our current employee handbook standards and
expectations if committed today.

Historical Educator Sexual Misconduct

In presenting the findings of the Jackson Lewis report to our community, we intend to be
as transparent as possible. At the same time, we are obligated to protect the identity of the
former students and ensure that their privacy is fully respected. We have made every effort to
preserve victim confidentiality and avoid the disclosure of any sensitive information that was
received as part of this process. For example, when there was a risk that revealing specific
information would violate privacy, especially the potential identification of a victim, that
information was not disclosed. Consequently, we endeavored to find a balance among the
complex concerns of being completely transparent while also safeguarding alumni and other
community members who courageously came forward but who understandably wish to keep
their identities private. Further, we took every reasonable step to avoid the possibility of making
inaccurate public accusations against faculty and staff.

Applying this approach, we are identifying five former faculty members as having
allegedly engaged in educator sexual misconduct, as described below. It is important to note that
Jackson Lewis investigated allegations other than those outlined here, but those allegations did
not meet the factors stated above and so information about them is not being provided at this

Indian Springs did not undertake its own investigation of these matters, instead relying on
the expertise of the professional and independent third-party investigators at Jackson Lewis, and
the legal counsel provided by McLane Middleton, and Boardman Carr. Each of the following
has been reported to the appropriate legal authorities:

 The investigators found that credible evidence supports a conclusion that Leland “Lee”
Watkins (faculty from 1958 to 1995, now deceased) engaged in educator sexual
misconduct with multiple students. This abuse, including solicitation of sex, grooming of
students, and sexual relationships with students, was reported to school officials in 2005
and was the subject of a previous investigation. In response to that investigation, Mr.
Watkins, who had remained living on campus subsequent to his retirement, was
permanently removed from campus.

 In response to a finding made by a previous investigatory report, John Lusco (faculty

from 1966 to 2013, now deceased) was terminated and permanently removed from
campus in 2013. The previous investigatory report found credible a single episode of
sexual propositioning. It was subsequently alleged that Mr. Lusco engaged in other
educator sexual misconduct. Jackson Lewis did not find sufficient evidence that Mr.
Lusco engaged in other educator sexual misconduct.
 It was reported that Marvin Balch (faculty from 1976 to 2001, now deceased)
inappropriately touched or groped students and that he engaged in other sexual
misconduct with a student. Jackson Lewis found credible evidence to support these
allegations, although they found no evidence that Indian Springs was aware of educator
sexual misconduct when Mr. Balch was employed by the school. Mr. Balch left the
school on long-term disability in 2001.

 Though a prior, limited investigation was not able to substantiate claims of misconduct,
Jackson Lewis found credible support for a conclusion that a former faculty member
sexually and emotionally abused students on several occasions during this faculty
member’s time at Indian Springs. Jackson Lewis heard direct testimony from two
witnesses about conduct that occurred several decades ago and the former faculty
member has not been employed by the school since that time. Jackson Lewis attempted
to contact this former faculty member at his last known address, but he did not respond to
their queries. The former faculty member is prohibited from returning to campus.

 As a result of direct witness testimony, Jackson Lewis found credible support for a
conclusion that a longstanding faculty member engaged in educator sexual misconduct
with students while at Indian Springs. This former faculty member, who has not been
employed by the school for a number of years, was accused by several former students of
grooming, inappropriate texting and communications, solicitation of sex, and a sexual
relationship. The investigators found no evidence that Indian Springs was aware of
inappropriate behavior with students. Jackson Lewis also found that this faculty member
violated appropriate boundaries, which would not be condoned today, though the
behavior does not meet the definition of “educator sexual misconduct” outlined
above. The former faculty member, through legal counsel, declined to be interviewed by
Jackson Lewis. This person is prohibited from returning to Indian Springs.

Again, we deeply apologize to the members of the Indian Springs community who were
harmed by this misconduct, and we truly regret the pain that this misconduct has caused. We
know that nothing can erase the actions of these former faculty members.

Policies and Procedures

The leadership of Indian Springs consistently strives to create and maintain a safe
environment for all members of our community at all times. Throughout this investigative process,
we ascertained best practices that could be implemented at Indian Springs to minimize the
possibility of future educator sexual misconduct. To that end, we continue to review and update
our policies and procedures, and we have taken the following steps on campus:

 This year, all faculty and staff members received mandatory training to help them
recognize signs of educator sexual misconduct; such training will be required
annually as part of the professional development program for all of our employees;
 The school is educating students about sensitive topics in an age-appropriate
manner so that they can become more comfortable speaking up with questions and
 We have implemented an enhanced background and reference check for faculty,
staff, and other adults living on campus;
 We are implementing an anonymous reporting system that will permit all members
of the community to register any concerns via an on-line platform;
 We are working closely with the faculty and staff to ensure they understand and are
up to date on mandatory reporting requirements; and
 We are reviewing any awards or recognitions bestowed upon faculty or staff
members who are found to have engaged in serious educator misconduct.

Our leadership is fully committed to following these practices and acting decisively
whenever allegations of faculty or staff misconduct are brought to our attention. As we have
demonstrated, when credible allegations of serious educator misconduct are made involving a
faculty or staff member, regardless of whether the misconduct is educator sexual misconduct or
unprofessional conduct, that person is immediately removed from campus and not permitted to
teach Indian Springs students. The allegations are then reported to the Alabama Department of
Human Resources Office of Child Protective Services and/or local law enforcement, as required by
law and our own policies and procedures. When such allegations are substantiated, the faculty or
staff member is terminated from Indian Springs and prohibited from returning to campus. This is
the process that we followed with respect to two faculty members who were terminated in recent

Additionally, Indian Springs takes seriously its obligation to act on any information we
acquire regarding educator sexual misconduct. With respect to former faculty and staff members
who were the subject of substantiated reports of educator sexual misconduct, and who continue to
teach or otherwise work with children, it is our practice to notify proactively, when we are aware,
schools or other organizations where these individuals may be working.

Next Steps

The landscape of possible boundary violations and misconduct has become more complex
over the years, and our understanding of the standard of care applicable to school policies and
practices intended to create a healthy campus climate has matured. The National Association of
Independent Schools and The Association of Boarding Schools recently published a report
misconduct-report-prevention-response/) on preventing and responding to educator sexual
misconduct that has helpful recommendations for schools, many of which have already been put
into practice. We are committed to staying informed about these evolving standards and acting

We reiterate our profound gratitude to all who reached out to us and participated in this
process. We understand that it took great courage to come forward, and we are most
appreciative of the survivors and witnesses who were willing to be interviewed by Jackson
Lewis. Once more, we extend our most heartfelt apologies to those former students and their
families who have been affected by educator sexual misconduct during their time at our school.

As educators, we strive to prevent current or future students from experiencing the pain,
suffering, or embarrassment that is perpetuated by reprehensible educator sexual
misconduct. This type of behavior has no place at Indian Springs, and we will not abide any
faculty or staff member who fails to uphold our school’s values and mission to foster learning,
creativity, integrity, moral courage, and active citizenship.

Please know that the Jackson Lewis investigators remain available if anyone is aware of
educator sexual misconduct at Indian Springs, past or present. Please contact Martha Van Oot at, or Daniel Schwarz
at We will share any additional findings with you as

If there are questions or concerns about this letter or the Jackson Lewis investigation,
please feel free to reach out to Don North, our recently appointed Interim Head of School. Don
can be reached at or 205.988.3350. He and the other senior leaders
at Indian Springs stand ready to assist all members of our community.

Most importantly, we take very seriously our responsibility to ensure the health and
safety of our community. For more information about our commitment to student safety or to
view prior communications on this subject to the Indian Springs community, please visit the
Health and Wellness section of our website. Indian Springs is committed to knowing itself and
protecting its students – past, present, and future. We expect to grow continually in our
understanding of what that means, and we are grateful to know you will continue to help us do
that. Together, we will continue to make Indian Springs a stronger and more open school
community, both now and in the future.

Thank you very much for your continued confidence and support of this great school and
our leaders.

On behalf of the Indian Springs School Board of Governors,

Alan Engel ‘73, P ‘03, ‘12

Chairman of the Board
Indian Springs School