Allegheny County

Sewickley Academy assistant head resigns after chaotic gathering, petition

SEWICKLEY, Pa. — Sewickley Academy announced today that its assistant head of school has resigned and four other faculty members within the senior school won’t be completing the remainder of the academic year after chaos ensued at the school on Thursday.

In a statement, the school said the “recent events on the campus of Sewickley Academy have distracted our students, faculty, and staff from their primary focus on academic excellence. Our Senior School has faced challenges over the last handful of years, with heightened tensions that unfortunately came to a head recently.”

The statement said that a small group of faculty and staff had not maintained a “degree of respect and professionalism that the Academy expects of their positions,” saying that they shared personnel decisions and changes with their students.

The statement went on to address the group of students, parents and a faculty supporter who had gathered outside of the school’s administrative offices. They group had gathered in support of the teachers, presenting a petition.

The head of school was occupied at the time and wasn’t able to meet with the group, the statement said. Her assistant offered to make sure she received the petition but the group didn’t leave and police were called.

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The statement said “the situation was described as ‘unruly, but not violent,’” and “had any of our children walked into such a chaotic moment, it would have been a confusing, scary experience. There were actions during the past few weeks in which respect and professionalism were abandoned and our standards of conduct and confidentiality were violated. In some instances this happened publicly, and in others, it occurred in private meetings. In either case, these actions do not reflect our collaborative culture.”

The school said that many of the faculty changes were scheduled to take place at the end of 2022 but recent events accelerated the process.

“We appreciate that these steps may be disruptive and disheartening to the students affected by the changes and ask that our community accept that when the lines of professionalism are crossed, and our standards of conduct and confidentiality are violated, consequences must occur.”

Classes and activities overseen by the exiting faculty have been redistributed.

The statement concluded by saying, “It is important that our community, especially our students, understand that the canceling of Senior School classes on Friday was meant to allow everyone to pause, reflect, and regroup after Thursday’s events. It was not an attempt to interfere with the walk-out scheduled for Friday, which did occur as planned. In fact, the students who participated in Friday’s walk-out were supported and encouraged in their demonstration, and we were incredibly proud of their organization, preparation, and effective public speaking – all of which they were taught as part of their Academy education. There has been significant change this academic year. We want nothing more than to address issues and collaborate in preparing Sewickley Academy for the future and ensuring a positive and productive learning environment for all students.”

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