A Friends School talks openly about past school abuse:
The alumnus said he’s upset the principal [Harold Jernigan] has not acknowledged the accusations. But he said he doesn’t regret sending his original message. ‘If you read Quaker literature, they spell ‘Truth’ in the uppercase – the implication of divinity,’ he said, ‘that it is a holy thing to continue that search for truth.’
I’m glad this is getting out now, but I did a double-take as the accused principle is still alive and living a few dozen miles from me. He was a lightning-rod figure as principal of at least two other schools after Carolina. I imagine the behavior continued. Updates below:
- An period article on his tenure at a Friends Seminary, a Manhattan Friends school, talked about the unrest of his two-year tenure there. It sounds like he came in and summarily fired the heads of the lower, middle, and upper schools. This is the kind of thing one would do if they wanted to curtail accountability.
- A memoir by Quaker educator Leonard Kenworthy talks about this period at Friends Seminary: “He moved much too rapidly in bringing about changes, asking for the resignations of the heads of the elementary and middle school, plus several other shifts, within a very short period, even before he took over as principal. Over and over I urged him not to move too fast but he said there were two ways of handling such a situation. One was to move slowly over a period of years. The other was to bring about quick changes and then to begin rapidly to initiate new programs and new personnel. He was determined to use the latter approach.”
- A 1986 New York Times profile of Friends Seminary had this to say of its former head: “After a shake-up of the staff that led to the resignation or dismissal of several teachers, a teacher’s union was formed, and students went on strike. Eventually, the principal, Harold Jernigan, resigned and the school ”rejected muscular Quakerism and returned to its mystical faith,” in the words of the official history.”
- A commenter on one news article writes: “Please also know that Harold Jernigan’s behavior continued on at Atlantic City Friends School, where he was Headmaster. As an Alum of ACFS, I thought that should be made clear.”
- Carolina Friends School wrote an open letter to the community in June.
Update December 2014. I have received emails from a former student who wished to remain anonymous at this time. I have no way to fact check this but it is consistent with the history and I have no reason to think it’s inaccurate. With that caveat, here are some excerpts:
As an Alumni of Atlantic City Friends School I am not surprised at all to hear about Harold Jernigan sexual abuse in the least . Please note this abuse along with more forms of abuse went on at ACFS into the early 80’s
Sexual abuse was not the only abuse. Abuse of the school system in general including drugs , abuse of power , money , teaching so badly that curves were used to grade so curved that the highest grade in a math class Harold Jernigan taught was a 42 yet all were passed . Harold Jernigan also would listen to classrooms and locker rooms with a speaker system in his office even after he promised Teachers he would not . Please note if Harold Jernigan did not want a student to pass he would call a meeting with all Teachers to make sure certain students would not pass no matter what .
I was a victim of his non sexual abuse but still abuse all the same .
I am only telling you this so someone puts a stop to this abuse. Back in the late 70’s early 80’s who would believe a teenager . To see this Finally come out makes me know there is Karma .
As teenagers in school we would talk amongst ourselves . No one would come forward because we knew Harold would hold back our Diplomas or not forward a letter to a college .
You must remember ACFS was attended by either high IQ students , rich kids that were kick out of their other schools or students that wanted to attend a private school . This made the student body Easy Prey .
During my time at ACFS I made friends with some of the Teachers . These Teachers are some of my sources ! They knew but needed their job