In the fall of 2020, the Cate Board of Trustees commissioned an independent investigation into incidents of sexual misconduct by employees of Cate School. We made a promise to conduct a thorough third-party investigation, motivated by our drive to learn as much as we could about the School’s past. We are writing now to share those findings.
To the members of the Cate community who were harmed, we are outraged by these acts and deeply sorry for the pain you endured while under the School’s care. In a close community such as ours, the bonds created between people on the Mesa are meant to provide comfort and nurture growth, not to inflict trauma. This was where we failed. We honor the survivors for the courage they have shown in coming forward to recount their painful experiences, and we thank those witnesses who joined them in helping us to understand the full nature of what occurred. It is through these contributions that we, as a community, are able to face some of Cate’s saddest history together, begin the healing process from the wounds inflicted, and use the knowledge gained to make our School ever safer for our students.
Related Letters to the Community
Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, CCA will provide regular updates via CommuniCATE to the community. If you have any questions or would like to see any recent communications, please contact CCA@cate.org.
Student safety and wellbeing is of the utmost importance at Cate. The following items outline both the School’s posture as well as action items from the last year that support the intention of creating a happy, healthy Mesa for all.
In the event that a student is made to feel uncomfortable by remarks or behaviors of a sexual nature from another student, faculty, or staff member, they are instructed to immediately seek the assistance of a trusted faculty member, the Sexual Harassment Information and Resource Team (SHIRT) Liaisons, or speak directly to a member of SHIRT.
When a complaint is made, members of SHIRT investigate the incident, follow all mandated reporting requirements, and develop the appropriate course of action. Potential responses include mediation and counseling, education, or disciplinary action up to, and including, termination. Even in the absence of a formal complaint, SHIRT may convene if an incident comes to light in which school standards of behavior were not met. If you have questions about SHIRT, please contact Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations and SHIRT Lead Sandi Pierce at email@example.com.
All incidents of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to family violence must, by law, be reported to Child Protective Services. Sexual abuse includes any sexual advances or sexual contact made by an adult with a minor. At any time, a student has the right to retain the service of an attorney and/or report an incident of sexual harassment or abuse directly to the police, Child Welfare Services, or the Head of School. Additionally, we partner with Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) to provide education and support services to our students and faculty.
All school faculty and staff are mandated reporters and receive training on their obligations annually. In the event that a student is made to feel uncomfortable by remarks or behaviors of a sexual nature from another student, faculty member, or staff member, Cate has several avenues for current students to report sexual misconduct.
Cate utilizes a tiered approach to well-being. All students receive explicit instruction on healthy relationships, consent, boundaries, mindfulness practices, drugs and alcohol, and other related topics through a variety of settings including the Human Development curriculum, residential life, advisory, grade-specific programming, counseling department programming, and challenge-specific programming.
This year, Cate has taken the following specific measures around student resources and training:
If you have questions about the student-specific trainings and resources, please contact Director of Campus Life Erin Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because providing a positive and productive environment for all members of the community is a fundamental goal of the School, sexual harassment or any behavior that adversely impacts the experience of a student at Cate will not be tolerated.
All adults in the community receive:
Additionally, this year:
If you have questions about the faculty-specific trainings and resources, please contact Assistant Head of School Sandi Pierce at email@example.com
We are consistently looking for opportunities for students to communicate the challenges they see as most pressing, learn skills for self-advocacy such as digital citizenship, productive dialogues, and partner with relevant faculty and counselors to help address those challenges. Our Student Senate, student clubs, prefects, and teaching assistants are both liaisons between adults and students and agents of change who regularly collaborate with school leaders.
This year, students and faculty collaborated to :
Our Counseling Office in partnership with students launched a number of group sessions.
For questions about student and faculty collaboration, please contact Director of Campus Life Erin Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School’s and the Board’s commitment to the safety of the students is our top priority. Providing training, education, and the resources to support healthy relationships is not enough. In support of the School’s continued efforts to make Cate a leader in best practices around sexual misconduct prevention, the School is establishing the Committee on Community Care and Accountability (CCA) as a standing committee of the Board. Originally formed in 2020 to initiate the independent investigation and to manage the implementation of any corrective measures issued by the Board upon review of the investigative report, the CCA’s charge will include the following going forward:
2021-2022 CCA Trustees
2022-2023 CCA Trustees
For immediate crisis intervention, general information, and resources:
Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, the School’s Corrective Action Response Committee (CARE) and the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Community Care and Accountability (CCA) have worked in parallel and coordinated paths to ensure that the Corrective Measures established following the release of the Oppenheimer Investigative Group report are successfully implemented.
SHIRT and CCA Collaboration
As part of the Corrective Measures outlined by the Board following the release of the Oppenheimer Investigative Group report, a bridge was established to share information between the School’s SHIRT (Sexual Harassment Information Resource Team) and the Board’s CCA (Committee on Community Care and Accountability) to provide oversight and assurance that incidents of sexual misconduct that come before SHIRT are addressed in an appropriate, thorough, timely, and equitable manner.
The partnership is collaborative and comprehensive and ensures the privacy of students coming before the SHIRT Committee (the school body which oversees investigations of student sexual misconduct and ultimately deliberates on appropriate school responses), while reserving the right to share information on individual cases with trustee partners.
The CCA’s oversight is designed to give the Board confidence that the School’s processes are being adhered to and that laws are complied with while maintaining the necessary standards of privacy and confidentiality that protect students.
Board of Trustee Trainings
The Board has undergone education around the School’s sexual misconduct policies and best practices in survivor-centered and trauma-informed care and received survivor sensitivity training.
School Programming Assessment
The Board has been regularly updated on the extensive work being done by the School’s recently formed CARE committee established to implement the Corrective Measures based on the findings of the OIG report. The CCA and Board will continue to support, follow and monitor the progress made by the School around these continued efforts.
In order to continue the important work of creating a safe environment on the Mesa, Cate has established partnerships with local and national level organizations to provide resources, training, and support to students, faculty, and alumni. Learn about these partnerships below.
Cate is strengthening its partnership with Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA). Formerly the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, STESA, a local affiliate of RAINN, provides confidential counseling and support services to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones.
Cate Therapy Fund: In an effort to support our survivors, Cate School has established a therapy fund to assist alumni and former students desiring reimbursement for therapy related to sexual abuse during their time at Cate. We have engaged RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to operate the dedicated Cate School Therapy Fund Hotline, and provide confidential support and information on how to access the fund.
The funds will be distributed through an independent, third-party claims administrator, and neither RAINN nor the claims administrator will provide the School or the Board with any personally identifying information about those who call the hotline, or who access the fund. Additionally, alumni and former students who were harmed by adults while at Cate can access these services but are not required to participate in the School’s investigation.
The fund has been formally established and the Cate School Therapy Fund Hotline, operated by RAINN, launched on Monday, October 4. Additional information for the Cate School Therapy Fund can be found here.
We recognize that, for survivors, even our outreach can cause emotional difficulty. For immediate crisis intervention, and general information and resources, available 24/7, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or online.rainn.org.