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Nichols probes 'possible improper' student-teacher relationship in 1990s

The Nichols School has opened an investigation into a possible improper relationship between a teacher and student in the early 1990s.

The school received a letter from a Nichols graduate detailing a sexual relationship with a Nichols teacher, followed by another letter from a student in the same class that supported those events, Nichols Chairman Jeremy M. Jacobs Jr. said in a statement Wednesday.

The faculty member in question left the school over a decade ago, school officials said.

Nichols has hired a Washington, D.C., firm experienced in investigating school-based sexual misconduct. Jacobs said in his statement that anyone who might have knowledge of inappropriate faculty-student relationships at Nichols, past or present, should contact the investigator.

Laurel Pyke Malson is leading the investigation and can be reached at lmalson@crowell.com or (202) 624-2576, according to a letter sent to those in the Nichols community.

“We committed to the Nichols community that board and school leaders will treat these reports sensitively and with due respect and that we will move quickly and transparently to do what is right," Jacobs said in his statement. "We want to assure the community that we are committed to an honest self-examination of any issues that arise through this process.”

The letter to the Nichols community, signed by Jacobs and Head of School Bill Clough, said the school "will continue to ensure that Nichols provides a safe, nurturing and attentive environment where each student feels heard and protected, in addition to being challenged to grow."

Since 2013, the school has had a full-time, on-camps counselor "tasked with helping our students with any challenges," according to the letter.

A five-teacher "wellness core group" reports to the counselor.

"They are trained through an external organization in early intervention around health and mental wellness," according to the letter.

Also, students meet with their class-level dean twice a week, and the school has a formal mandatory wellness classes for grades five through nine, according to the letter.

"We will communicate with you further and detail any specific changes to our policies and procedures that we believe are warranted," the letter added.

Nichols, whose 30-acre campus is on Amherst Street near Delaware Park, has 560 students in grades five through 12. The 115-year-old non-denominational school draws students mostly from Western New York, with thousands of alumni in the region.

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