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A former female North Shore Country Day School student reported on social media that she was emotionally and sexually abused by a volunteer while a student at the Winnetka school, according to an email sent Tuesday, June 4, by NSCDS Head of School Tom Flemma.
The woman alleged the incident occurred while she was an Upper School student more than 10 years ago and levied the accusation against “someone who was volunteering at the school for a short period of time,” Flemma’s email says.
It is not clear if the alleged abuse happened on school property, and The Beacon was unable to immediately locate the aforementioned social media post.
“As you can imagine, we are shocked and saddened by this report,” reads Flemma’s email, also signed by Molly Shotwell Oelerich, NSCDS Board of Trustees chairperson.
“This is a letter we hoped never to write,” it continues. “We care deeply about and remain committed to the well-being of all North Shore students past and present. As we work to understand and respond to unfortunate circumstances, we will continue to communicate with the North Shore community.”
The school’s spokesperson Tura Cottingham said there is no additional information to share as of press time.
In response to the former student’s accusation, NSCDS has informed Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and “engaged some of the nation’s leading authorities on these issues, David Wolowitz and Susan Schorr of the McLane Middleton law firm,” Flemma says in the email.
Winnetka Police Department did not immediately answer if it was notified of or is investigating the situation.
The email also states NSCDS’s hiring processes “conform to best practices and Illinois state laws regarding background checks and fingerprinting.”
NSCDS is encouraging anyone who may have experienced abuse or misconduct of any kind by adults at school — regardless of when the incident occurred — to share the reports with the school.
“We are in the process of identifying and retaining an independent investigator to help us investigate sensitively and thoroughly any report of abuse, and we will treat any such report with respect, discretion and care,” the email says.