Friends Central Building Renamed After Allegations of Inappropriate Conduct

Friends Central School, one of the area’s distinguished Quaker K-12 institutions, has changed the name of its Wood Building–named for former Head of School Thomas Wood–to the Main Building, which it was called before. The change is the result of a revelation that two former students allege the late Dr. Wood behaved inappropriately in the 1980s. The school is taking those allegations seriously enough to not only change the building’s name immediately, but to alert the alumni community via a broadly circulated letter that urges anyone with similar experiences to contact the current Head of School.

Below, the full text of the letter that was sent to alumni:

Dear Friends,
When we began our tenures as Head of School and Board Clerk last fall, we shared a commitment to a vibrant and caringFriends school where educating students in a safe and nurturing environment is the standard. We know that each of you shares this expectation. It is thus deeply troubling to communicate the following information concerning Dr. Thomas A. Wood, who served as Friends’ Central’s Head of School from 1971 to 1987. As you may know, Dr. Wood died in 2007.

We have learned of two allegations of inappropriate conduct by Dr. Wood, directed toward Friends’ Central students in the early 1980s. Although these events occurred more than 30 years ago and are likely to be of greatest concern to community members from that era, we believe it is important to share this information more broadly. We do not know the extent to which our alumni/ae community from his era may be aware of, or affected by, Dr. Wood’s conduct. We do, however, recognize that inappropriate actions – no matter how long ago – may continue to cause pain, and we intend to promote healing wherever possible.

If you were affected by Dr. Wood’s conduct, we encourage you to contact Head of School Craig Sellers via email at csellers@friendscentral.org, or by phone at 610.645.5031.

You may know that, upon his retirement in December 1987, our Upper School Building was renamed the Wood Building to honor Dr. Wood. Effective immediately, the building will revert to its former name – the Main Building.

We have reflected on the impact this communication may have on members of the FCS community. We hope that individual reactions will help our community remain united in the belief that seeking truth and honoring individual experiences allow our community to emerge stronger.

A healthy and inspiring student-teacher relationship remains at the core of what makes Friends’ Central the school we love. These essential relationships must always be anchored by our mission and our values — with the safety and well-being of every student first among our priorities. Any violation of this shared trust is unacceptable.

Friends’ Central School has several policies and practices in place to support student safety and to demonstrate our commitment to zero-tolerance for inappropriate student-teacher relationships. For instance, our Child Abuse Mandatory Reporting Policy details our commitment to the welfare of our students, and our Responsible Use Policy for Faculty and Staff details acceptable use of electronic technology and the Internet. In a word, we take our commitment to student safety very seriously.

We close with a simple statement of timeless truth: our Quaker values, and our belief in spirit-led decision making, will continue to guide our decisions.

We thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Craig N. Sellers                               Robert Gassel ’69
Head of School                               Clerk, Board of Trustees