The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


Faculty collective critiques school leadership in anonymous Medium post

Mia Ramirez
QR codes linked to the statement were displayed in the Arrillaga building.

“The Sixth ‘C,’” a self-described “collective of diverse faculty members across various departments, programs, and administrative teams at Castilleja School,” posted a statement criticizing the school administration and the Board of Trustees on Medium Tuesday night.

The post addressed alleged inconsistencies surrounding former Head of School Nanci Kauffman’s departure, the disappearance of Assistant Head of School Nadia Johnson and the suspension of the ICA Experiential Learning program.

The statement opened by questioning the Board’s announcement that Kauffman’s decision to step down was a “recent” and “mutual” decision, citing a contradictory statement made at the September 7th All Hands meeting and the hiring of a consultant.

The post was the first time the student body was notified of Johnson’s departure. A faculty member that collaborated closely with Johnson said, “There was no communication across the faculty, and there still has not been any formal communication with faculty to this day, about her absence.”

All faculty members interviewed asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

Another Castilleja teacher who worked with Johnson added, “as someone who receives a lot of guidance and mentorship from her, certain aspects of my role have been at a standstill because we’ve just been waiting.”

“I still don’t know what happened, so that is, I think, the most alarming piece. And that’s why I’m glad that some of the faculty are speaking up, because this kind of behavior, or these actions are not okay to model for our young people. And this should not happen at a learning institution,” one faculty member said.

Acting Head of School Kathy Layendecker and the Board of Trustees cited Layendecker’s email to parents and guardians in response to a request for comment. In the email, Layendecker described the promotion of the statement via QR codes as “disrespectful of and intrusive to students’ experiences.”

She also wrote in the email that Castilleja does not support “misrepresentations, unfounded accusations and the refusal to participate in open dialogue.”

“The fact that [the Sixth ‘C’ announced the statement anonymously] is a testament to how unsafe the climate feels,” a faculty member said. “I’m sure that if there was a proper channel, they would have used it, but this was a way that another perspective could be shared. I think they did that because people are scared, and they need a way to express what’s going on.”

“It makes me incredibly sad that this is the way that it was felt to be necessary to express these thoughts,” another Castilleja teacher said.

The statement’s final criticism was aimed at the school’s decision to suspend the ICA & Experiential Learning program before properly gathering feedback from faculty and students.

“I may not have agreed one-hundred percent with how the ICA program was rolled out or constructed. And I also don’t think that the decisions that have been made are also sound or bring stability for our students,” a faculty member said. “I hope people reading remember the anti-racism competency of valuing multiple perspectives and sitting with dissonance. I want to challenge students to think about it with nuance and complexity. There’s a lot of different perspectives, and they’re all valuable.”

Another Castilleja teacher advised readers to understand that “an article as thoughtfully and carefully crafted as this comes from a place of caring about the community.” They said, “It’s a love letter to the school, because it’s like the authorship says there’s hope. Because the other alternative is, ‘I’m just leaving.’”

Layendecker will be meeting with students in-person tomorrow to “support them as they process their thoughts and feelings.”

This is a developing story.

Editor’s note: If you are a member of The Sixth “C,” Counterpoint is interested in hearing your story. Inquiries can be sent to [email protected] or [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Thea Dai, Editor-in-Chief
Thea Louise Dai '24 is an Editor-in-Chief of Counterpoint. For her fourth year writing for the paper, she hopes to impact the Castilleja community by telling relevant and important stories. When she's not at school, she also loves to play volleyball and take photos.

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