Massachusetts Preparatory School

Challenge

An elite K-9 day and 5-9 boarding school located in Massachusetts faced a crisis after several students were not invited to return for the 2006-2007 academic year, leading some parents to threaten legal action against the school. The school’s legal counsel contacted O’Neill and Associates for crisis management services to prevent damage to the school’s reputation as a result of a potential lawsuit.

Solution

O’Neill and Associates worked with the school’s legal counsel to prepare school administration and board members for a potential lawsuit and possible negative publicity. O’Neill and Associates developed a proactive plan designed to limit any negative press, while also being sensitive to the associated legal and liability concerns. Even though the lawsuit was not expected to pose significant legal exposure, the risk of public damage to the school’s reputation was genuine.

O’Neill and Associates worked to inform the school community of the lawsuit and the administration’s position on the case by authoring a Headmaster’s letter to parents and employees as well as a letter to the greater community of alumni, donors and friends of the school. O’Neill and Associates drafted a statement for the Board of Trustees and prepared the Board to comment and respond to inquiries. O’Neill and Associates also worked to position a third-party report as a part of the school’s continuing effort to improve the quality of education and foster a nurturing environment. Lastly, O’Neill and Associates proactively prepared the school for media interest in this lawsuit by identifying and preparing a spokesperson, developing talking points and a Q & A of likely media questions, and identifying advocates among the parent body.

Results

The school was extremely pleased with all of O’Neill and Associates’ preventative efforts. The issue did not surface in the media nor was legal action taken against the school.

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