A prominent Christian school in Gwinnett County has hired an outside investigator to look into allegations of sexual misconduct against a former teacher, asking any alumni who suffered sexual abuse while they attended the school to come forward.
Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross has been sending letters to every former student in its records saying that earlier this month, one of its graduates made a post on social media alleging they were victimized by a former teacher, and that the report was “the first of its kind to reach us regarding this individual.” The letter says the alleged misconduct occurred during the 1980s and involved an unnamed faculty member who left the school “nearly two decades ago.”
The letter offers few details, but a recent Facebook post made by a ex-student accused a former teacher of being a pedophile.
The school would not address Thursday whether that accused ex-teacher is the same one referred to in the letter to alumni. But administrators are casting a net beyond the ex-teacher, asking former students to report any allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the decades the school has been in operation.
Greater Atlanta Christian opened in 1968 and currently has about 1,800 students, with classes ranging from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade, according to its website. Tuition for middle- and high-school grades is $28,700.
The letter to alumni, signed by President Scott Harsh, said the school hired Laura Kirschstein, an attorney who specializes in sexual misconduct allegations for the New York consulting firm T&M USA, to assist with conducting a thorough investigation.
The letter does not say if law enforcement is involved, too. A spokeswoman for the Gwinnett County Police Department said Thursday afternoon she was not aware of such a case involving the private school, but asked for more time to check with investigators.
“We seek to find the truth for our community based on the Christian principles of accountability, honesty, love, and care,” Harsh’s letter said. “We are sending this letter to all GAC alumni to learn what we can about any allegations of sexual misconduct from the past, offer support to any survivor of such misconduct, and continuously refine our safety practices and procedures.”
Harsh did not return a call from the AJC on Thursday, instead sending a written statement that said the school will not share any information beyond what’s in the letter “out of respect for the ongoing investigation and the privacy of anyone who has come forward.” His staff bio said he has been president of the school since 2018, but has been at GAC since 1996, having worked as an educator, principal and vice president.
“Our hearts go out to anyone who has been mistreated and is suffering from such tragic experiences,” the statement to the AJC said. “We are distressed by the allegation and are committed to understanding what happened, as the education, safety, and emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of our students, past and present, is of paramount importance to us.”
The school has also sent a letter to parents of current students and current faculty and staff describing the investigation but saying the school has “no reason to believe any current GAC employee has been involved in or accused of sexually inappropriate adult-student behavior.”
The letter lists steps the school takes to protect its students, including background checks of employees and volunteers; guidance to employees on adult-student boundaries, recognizing child abuse and mandatory reporting duties; and screening all campus visitors by checking drivers licenses against the National Sex Offender Registry.
To report GACS sexual abuse allegations
Greater Atlanta Christian School is asking anyone who experienced abuse or has knowledge of past sexual misconduct by any school employees to contact its independent investigator, attorney Laura Kirschstein, at 646-445-7591 or GreaterAtlantaChristianSchool@tmusallc.com.
“We will treat any reports received with care and great sensitivity,” a letter sent to alumni said.
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