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November 9, 2017

Three Highland School boys “removed” for hazing

Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students, and we commend the student leaders who sounded the alarm and the students who came forward to share their experiences.
— Highland administrators’ letter to parents
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Staff Journalist
Highland School in Warrenton recently “removed” three male students who allegedly hazed and had “inappropriate contact” with other male students in a school bathroom.

Highland officials learned of the misconduct last week, Head of School Hank Berg and Assistant Head of School Cassin Bertke wrote Tuesday in a letter to upper school parents.

Mr. Berg and Ms. Bertke did not return phone messages seeking comment.

The encounters between students in one of the Warrenton school’s bathrooms took place “often with the lights out,” according to the letter.

Calling it a “disturbing situation,” the letter stated: “Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students, and we commend the student leaders who sounded the alarm and the students who came forward to share their experiences.”

But, the letter suggested that the scope of the hazing and “inappropriate contact” remains unclear.

“We recognize the possibility there are other students unknown to us, so we encourage you to have a conversation with your son, both to understand the impact of this on him and also to remind him of the importance of alerting adults when the situation is warranted.”

Responding to the incidents, the school “removed the three boys from our community, and they are not allowed on campus,” the Nov. 7 letter reads.

The school also intends to “make adjustment to all bathrooms, including making it impossible to turn off lights,” the letter reads.

The private pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school also will “expand” its “hallway and lunchtime supervision.”

Mr. Berg also addressed the problem during a school assembly Wednesday morning.

In a text Wednesday morning, he denied a reporter’s request to attend that meeting.

Highland “does not tolerate bullying,” school spokeswoman Donna Tomlinson wrote in a prepared statement Wednesday.

After learning that “inappropriate behavior had taken place, the school promptly investigated.”

Warrenton Police Chief Louis Battle and Fauquier Commonwealth’s Attorney James Fisher said school officials have not contacted their agencies about the matter.

“This situation has been handled and thoroughly evaluated as an internal disciplinary matter,” Ms. Tomlinson said.

Responding to email questions, Ms. Tomlinson explained that when dealing with “serious disciplinary situations, it is our practice to avail ourselves of outside resources and counsel to insure that we are completely and accurately evaluating circumstances to determine if they require notification to external entities, including referral to counseling and reporting to law enforcement.”

All of those disciplined are younger than 18, she said.

School officials spent more than a week investigating the matter, according to Ms. Tomlinson.

As a result, “at this time the facts as we understand them, do not rise above that of an internal investigation.”

Also, “to safeguard student privacy, the school will not provide an interview or comment further on the disciplinary action or the specific student conduct,” Ms. Tomlinson wrote.

In September, a Prince William County Circuit Court judge sentenced former Highland basketball Coach George Logan III to five years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a female student.

In January 2016, Mr. Logan, a part-time employee, began “sexting” with a 16-year-old student, who played on the girls’ basketball team.

Highland Letter Nov 7 2017 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Highland School Response to Request for Comment Nov. 8 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Highland School Response to Request for Comment 11.9.17 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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SBarton · November 13, 2017 at 7:17 pm
Agree Capt C........when is the board of trustees going to catch on their is a problem within this school on so many levels. When will the administration be held responsible for sweeping problems under the rug, turning a blind eye, covering up for the the one who has the largest pocket book and political influence. None of these issues are new.....they just happen to be rearing their heads and apparently now they are coming out. There is for sure alot more that needs to come out. Lets see if it does! One can only hope.
rpsmith · November 12, 2017 at 4:19 pm
Highland is a community that embodies respect, fairness, and kindness. While what happened is unfortunate, it is not a matter that should overshadow all the fantastic qualities this school has. When this situation arose, it was investigated and taken care of swiftly and maturely. I think that instead of focusing solely on the imperfections of Highland (which by the way, every school has flaws within its community), we should take a step back and take note of all the positive things that occur at Highland day in and day out. Children can access knowledge at Highland that will last a lifetime, and with their enthusiasm for athletics, arts, and academics, kids are able to express themselves and have fun doing so. It is truly a rare gem in Virginia.
Capt C · November 10, 2017 at 7:12 am
Not surprising at all. So far they have had at least 2 coaches fired for sexual misconduct. They had another coach fired for bullying. And quite a few other things that have never been reported. Not surprised they will not talk to any media, they are the entitled few and they have an honor code in place to prevent all of this. As far as their bullying goes, they need to look inside at some of their leadership. Glad to see some of the things beginning to be exposed about that place. They portray being elite and better than everyone else. I would really like to see a reputable media source investigate them. Many people would be shocked I believe, along with many parents.
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