Saturday, August 9, 2014

Eugene Schwartz - the Child Pornographer who became a Waldorf Rock Star

I am quoted in this story.  I added a few of my own comments at the end:

Eugene Schwartz, now 69, has lectured widely and earned a reputation as a distinguished pedagogical leader since he left the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge in 2005, when the child pornography reportedly surfaced.
But Green Meadow officials did not investigate or share information at the time about Schwartz, whose career prospered after his 24-year teaching tenure ended in his abrupt departure from the school after that year's graduation ceremony.
The news sent shock waves to the West Coast, where the Westside Waldorf School in southern California severed its ties with Schwartz.
Other schools are expected to follow suit, said a spokeswoman at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, which is charged with accrediting dozens of Waldorf schools in the U.S.
"I suspect, based on my conversations, that many others will take the same strong stance," said Beverly Amico, AWSNA's leader of outreach and development.
The Westside School permanently barred Schwartz from its campus on the outskirts of Los Angeles after learning of Green Meadow's "disturbing" report

Here's an interesting thing that slipped by me when I first read the report:

"Green Meadow assigned another teacher to teach with Mr. Schwartz in his class for that last week of school and to accompany him for all graduation activities. It then severed its professional relationship with him after the term ended." 

That doesn't mean he wasn't on campus.

"Based on the results of T&M’s investigation, (LAST MONTH) Mr. Schwartz has now (NOW?) been permanently barred from Green Meadow and Threefold property."

So... he was still allowed to visit GREEN MEADOW - AFTER they knew about him!

"The School at the time sought, and followed, the advice of its THEN legal counsel as to how and to whom to communicate what they learned about Mr. Schwartz and why he was no longer working at Green Meadow."

In other words, the (now fired) attorney told them what story to give out and to whom?  Seriously?  Give me a break!!!
The Westside school is one of many Waldorf institutions Schwartz frequented as a guest lecturer and education consultant in the years since his departure from Green Meadow.
After the child pornography discovery in 2005, Schwartz allegedly told several adults at Green Meadow and within the larger Threefold education community at Chestnut Ridge, where he lived, that he "was attracted to young girls," according to investigators.
Schwartz with a 4th grade class at Green Meadow in 2001 - photo Kathy Gardner 
The investigation determined Schwartz had also taken many photographs of students, including students in swimwear, as well as at least one "provocative" photograph of a young female student in a bathing suit. The report's summary does not provide any detail about the nature of what it describes as pornography.
In Schwartz's case, the investigators indicated, the school took the advice of its lawyer and did not report the pornography findings to police.
Nor did the school conduct a "prompt and thorough investigation to determine if he had acted inappropriately with any Green Meadow students or other children in the area," investigators reported.
Possession of child pornography is a felony. While employees of nonpublic schools are considered mandated reporters of suspected child abuse inflicted by parents and other guardians, the law, with few exceptions, doesn't obligate nonpublic school staff to report alleged abuse by other school staff.
In the nine years since Green Meadow quietly severed ties with Schwartz, he has traveled the world lecturing on Waldorf education, published articles and books, produced podcasts and videos and offered online workshops, according to his website, Millennial Child. He's worked as a consultant at schools throughout the United States — especially in California and in the Northeast — and visited classrooms to speak with students, teachers and parents.
Schwartz on the Radio
..."All through the years that I've known Eugene Schwartz I've had the highest regard for him," Bedingfield said. "He had a reputation as an outstanding teacher."
Schwartz Video
She said Schwartz's last visit to Suncoast was around 2006, when he gave a lecture about adolescent education. A blog post on the school's website describes the visit and his talk about "the unique relationship between the Waldorf class teacher and his or her students."
The blog post continues, "Since Waldorf teachers ideally stay with a single group of students from the 1st through the 8th grades, they have the opportunity to truly get to know each of their students and come to love them as an individual."
Bedingfield said that, if she could, she would have a conversation with Schwartz and hear him out about the child pornography allegations.
Schwartz using his teaching
status to promote Waldorf products
"Of course everyone's talking about this ... it's disappointing to hear," she said. "This sometimes happens when people are brilliant and they have much to offer... Human beings aren't perfect and it can be disappointing when you find out they're not perfect."

Here's the problem with all this. Excusing crimes against children is common for Waldorf. We have already documented many cases of child abusers moving from Waldorf school to Waldorf school - with full knowledge of the schools. That Schwartz was allowed to continue in the Waldorf world after having been discovered is not unusual AT ALL. Ultimately, most of the blame for this has to fall at the feet of Green Meadow teachers and staff who knew about Schwartz' problems and who said and did NOTHING! Also, the attorney for the school - who thought it might be smart to keep this quiet... seriously? Is that the type of attorney Waldorf schools hire to represent them?  Did he tell Green Meadow their teacher was a felon?  How could he not have?  
Green Meadow did nothing more than dismiss a known felon out into the world 1) without telling the police of reports of his crimes 2) without investigating the crimes themselves 3) without informing other schools in their own system which they knew Schwartz was visiting.  
Was Schwartz guilty of these "alleged" crimes?  Let's say he wasn't.  You're a well-known, established Waldorf teacher taking your third class through from first to eighth grade (24 years) and suddenly - "allegations" of child pornography arise.  If you are innocent of these allegations, do you DO NOTHING while the school assigns a supervisor to you while you finish your semester, and then fires you and bans you from their campus?  Or do you try to challenge these "allegations" that are ruining your career?  Apparently, Schwartz quietly ended his 24 year teaching career without a peep... no challenge to the allegations... only to launch a new and successful career in Waldorf - as a (well-respected) lecturer, teacher trainer and media promoter.  So - no peep from Schwartz... no peep from the school... Everything stayed quiet for almost a decade while Schwartz visited schools - often residing in the homes of parents when he visited.  Below is a copy of an email sent from Highland Hall when Schwartz visited California.
Nov 8, 2006
Hi All,Eugene Schwartz is coming to town and needs a place to call home. He arrives on Sunday, Nov. 12th and leaves on Wednesday, Nov. 15th. He will be spending 3 days at Highland hall and will have a car.Please call ASAP if you can help.
Communication & Outreach
Highland Hall Waldorf School
I actually offered my home for him to stay in (he didn't, BTW).  This is the type of reception Schwartz was used to from the school communities he visited. He would just visit a family and make himself at home while spending a few days at the school.  It would have been nice if Green Meadow had mentioned something (officially).  I think it's unlikely that Schwartz sexual proclivities were a secret to everyone in the Waldorf movement.  I think there were others in the movement who knew about him and kept quiet (just like the teachers at Green Meadow did) because of his "rock star" status.  

Schwartz has issued a letter of rebuttal:

Dear Colleagues,
Recently the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America forwarded a summary report from the Green Meadow Waldorf School to your school. That report contained a number of serious allegations against me.
I want to assure you that these allegations are false, and they should never have been disseminated. Based on them, some schools have rushed to judgment about me without seeking to discover the truth.
To address this libel and the defamation of my character, I have retained the services of Janis Law, LLC, of Malvern, PA.  We have submitted a complaint against Green Meadow Waldorf School and against the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, and we will take whatever further action may be needed to resolve this matter.
I appreciate the support from so many of you and look forward to having my name cleared of these baseless allegations.
Eugene Schwartz

It appears everyone is hiding something.  We know Waldorf schools are predisposed to lie to people.  We know Waldorf teachers are equally predisposed to dishonesty.  I'm hoping we will ALL learn the FULL truth about what has happened here, but I don't want to get my hopes up.
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  1. First let the facts speak for themselves: let parents and students give their perception of Mr. Schwartz performance, listen to what Mr. Schwartz has to say, only THEN give judgements. Otherwise sound very much like biased assumptions...


You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.