Prep School Settles Lawsuit Threat
Dec. 07, 1998
CONCORD, Mass. (AP) _ A money settlement and an apology have ended a family's threat to sue an exclusive preparatory school over suggestions that a student who reported receiving anti-Semitic notes actually wrote them herself.
The parents of 16-year-old Lucy Weber said the Middlesex School in Concord tried to protect its own reputation by saying she was the source of the notes and by allegedly hinting that she was mentally ill.
``We were victimized more by the administration than we were by the notes,'' Lucy's mother, Katherine Weber, told The Boston Globe. ``The administration of that school was motivated by expediency above all.''
``It's not their problem if it's my problem,'' said Lucy, who now attends school elsewhere.
The school denies the family's claims. ``Its entire motive in this matter was to get to the bottom of what was going on so that it could remedy it,'' said John Mason, the school's lawyer.
Lucy, who is of mixed Jewish-Protestant ancestry, said she found four notes _ one saying ``Gas for the Jew'' _ and a swastika and defaced photograph at the school last year and early this year.
Her own great-grandfather, James P. Warburg, also encountered anti-Semitism at the school when he was a student there in 1913. However, he still became a benefactor of the school, donating money that helped build the library.
After Lucy reported the notes, school officials called in police.
Lucy's mother said she was then told that Lucy passed a lie detector test requested by the school, while the school said the results were inconclusive.
Her father told the Globe that Deirdre Ling, head of the school, told him Lucy had multiple personalities and would have to leave the school. A psychologist hired by the family reported there was no sign of mental disorder.
Last March, a letter sent to parents said a school judiciary committee ``could not conclude that the evidence definitely implicated the student apparently being targeted by the notes.''
But the same letter also said police had determined there was no hate crime ``and that the student apparently targeted by the notes may herself have been the author of some or all of them.''
But after the settlement reached last month, school officials sent out a letter apologizing for ``misleading statements'' in the March letter.
They said there had been no police report, and the implication that Lucy wrote the notes was ``regrettable and unfounded.''
Neither side would disclose the money of the financial settlement.
Concord police said today they wanted to review the records before commenting on what the department's role in the case was.