WALLINGFORD — Choate Rosemary Hall terminated a teacher this week after an investigation by Choate found the teacher engaged in “improper conduct” while previously teaching at another school.
Choate terminated Oliver Morris, a teacher at Choate since 2007, after the Foote School in New Haven, where Morris taught before coming to Choate, recently informed the school they received allegations of misconduct against Morris, headmaster Alex Curtis announced Wednesday afternoon in a letter to the Choate community.
After being contacted by Foote School, Choate “immediately commenced a third-party investigation,” which “found credible evidence to support the allegations of misconduct,” Curtis said.
“On the basis of that information, Choate has terminated Mr. Morris’s employment, and we have made reports to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and law enforcement officials,” Curtis wrote in the letter.
Curtis’ letter didn’t go into detail about the allegations against Morris.
Morris couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. He is the first current teacher fired by Choate since it released a 48-page report in April 2017 naming 12 former teachers who allegedly engaged in misconduct with former students from the 1960s to 2010. The misconduct mentioned in the report, compiled by an investigator hired by Choate, ranged from inappropriate touching to rape.
A former female Choate teacher, Sally Pont, was fired from a position with another private school in May 2017 after Choate investigated and substantiated allegations made by a former student that Pont had an inappropriate sexual relationship with him during the 1989-90 school year.
The Foote School is an independent school for students in kindergarten through ninth grade. The school received the allegation against Morris during the course of its own ongoing investigation into “any allegations of inappropriate contact by faculty,” the school said in a letter Wednesday.
The Foote School immediately notified authorities and Choate after receiving the allegation against Morris, according to the letter written by Head of School Carol Maoz and Richard Lee, president of the school’s Board of Directors.
“We immediately notified the appropriate authorities and provided that information and other information we developed to Choate, which conducted its own investigation,’ the letter said. “...The teacher-student bond is a foundational value at Foote, and any violation of that trust, no matter when it occurred, is unacceptable.”
At Choate, Morris taught Latin and coached junior varsity girls basketball. He was also a faculty adviser to the student council and chaired the school’s faculty committee, a standing committee that addresses issues relating to faculty life, according to stories published by the school’s student newspaper, The Choate News.
Choate learned of the allegations against Morris recently and is not aware of any alleged misconduct by Morris during his time at Choate, the letter stated.
At the time Morris was hired, the school conducted background checks and reference procedures, “which revealed no indications of any misconduct or other concerning behavior,” Curtis said.
A spokesman for New Haven police could not immediately say Wednesday whether the department has or is currently investigating any complaints against Morris. Wallingford police couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Following the release of the report in April 2017, Choate retained the services of the law firm Day Pitney to investigate any new allegations made against former and current teachers. A Choate spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on whether the school has received any new allegations against teachers since the report’s release, adding the school will announce the results of Day Pitney’s investigation when it is completed.
Curtis encouraged anyone with further information about Morris to contact Frank Rudewicz, the school’s third-party investigator, at 617-807-5210 or at email@example.com.