At a glance: Sonoma Academy’s statement on former teacher’s misconduct
Tucker Foehl, head of school at Sonoma Academy, sent out a statement to parents, staff and alumni of the school on Wednesday afternoon detailing a longtime former instructor’s history of misconduct and the school’s response to alumni reports made shortly after his arrival in 2020.
The announcement, which came eight months after Marco Morrone, a former humanities teacher, was dismissed, represented the first public acknowledgment of the behavior and school findings that led to Morrone’s dismissal.
Foehl learns of alumni concerns
“On August 5, 2020, just a month after I joined Sonoma Academy last summer, I received letters from three Sonoma Academy alumni from the class of 2008 expressing concerns about Morrone's conduct toward them when they were students. They described him making inappropriate comments to them and developing close relationships with select female students that crossed the boundaries of an appropriate educator-student relationship. ”
Describing the investigation
“Over a two-month period, the independent investigator conducted a thorough investigation, interviewing Morrone, the three alumni who contacted me, additional alumni identified through the investigation, as well as current and former faculty and administrators. Based on the findings of the investigation, we concluded that Morrone engaged in conduct that violated appropriate boundaries with students who were members of the classes of 2008 through 2014. His employment was terminated, and he has not been permitted to return to our campus.”
Stories since firing
“Following the investigation, additional alumni who graduated between 2007 and 2014 have come forward and spoken to the independent investigator about conduct by Morrone similar to the pattern disclosed in the investigation. In addition, in a recent alumni survey, a number of alumni have shared similar experiences or related concerns consistent with the independent investigation. Sonoma Academy has not received any reports of Morrone engaging in inappropriate conduct more recently than 2014.”
Avenues for more reports
“This past year, the school launched a dashboard to track and improve on the overall sense of equity, inclusion, and belonging for all of our students. Additionally, we sent a survey to all alumni to assess their sense of belonging and inclusion during their time at Sonoma Academy, and to understand any other issues that could have negatively impacted their experiences as students.
Along with this survey, we introduced the LiveSafe platform — a confidential reporting tool available to alumni, students, and our staffulty — to make certain that all members of our community have the ability to confidentially report any type of misconduct occurring at Sonoma Academy. We encourage alumni, current students, or anyone else who has any additional information to report about the conduct of Sonoma Academy personnel to use the LiveSafe platform (which allows for anonymous reports). We will conduct training for all students and staffulty on the LiveSafe platform in August.“
Education, The Press Democrat
Learning is a transformative experience. Beyond that, it’s a right, under the law, for every child in this country. But we also look to local schools to do much more than teach children; they are tasked with feeding them, socializing them and offering skills in leadership and civics. My job is to help you make sense of K-12 education in Sonoma County and beyond.