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Horace Mann Alumni Return Diplomas to Protest Sex Abuse Scandal

By Victoria Bekiempis | September 4, 2012 1:21pm
Horace Mann School.
Horace Mann School.
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THE BRONX — Nearly two months after allegations surfaced of a molestation coverup at Horace Mann, some alumni are returning their virtual diplomas to the elite school to protest the administration's handling of the scandal. 

The Horace Mann Action Coalition has set up a web page for "those who have chosen to return our diplomas to protest the school's refusal to investigate the incidents of sexual abuse inflicted upon our friends and classmates by Horace Mann teachers over decades."

An explanatory message, addressed to Headmaster Thomas Kelly and Board of Trustees Chair Steven Friedman, also states, "It is clear that an institution like HM could not have allowed such criminal behavior to occur without wilful ignorance, if not outright complicity.  We deserve to know what happened, so it will not happen again."

The online protest, first reported by the New York Observer, is mobilizing disgruntled alumni who feel their certificates "'have been tarnished by the school's unwillingness to acknowledge, apologize for and investigate the sexual abuse that was suffered by so many of our classmates.'"

Robert Boynton, a coalition member and class of 1981 grad, also told the Observer that "'several dozen'" had already returned their diplomas electronically and that more are expected to do so.

“We are returning our diplomas — both metaphorically and literally — until which time they can be restored to their original values,” Boynton, a professor in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, told the Observer