Tabor head of school there to stay

Feb 13, 2020

This story has a more recent update as of Feb. 19. For the most recent update, see story here

MARION — John Quirk will remain head of school at Tabor Academy. 

In the wake of a Jan. 31 incident where he was pulled over and arrested for speeding and driving under the influence, the Board of Trustees released a letter to the Tabor community on Feb. 13, saying that the administrator will face disciplinary action short of dismissal. 

In Falmouth District Court on Feb. 11, Quirk’s case was “continued without a finding,” an action which admits that there is enough evidence against him for a trial but allows him to skip that process in exchange for strict probation conditions and harsher consequences should a second incident occur. The Tabor Board of Trustees said that Quirk will be required to make a public apology to the community. 

The board stated in their letter that the incident prompted them “to evaluate his ability to lead our school.” However, it also feels that “through the work of Tabor’s Disciplinary Committee and ‘two strike’ policy, he has shown the students and families fairness, including providing second chances and opportunities for redemption.”

The trustees also stated that Quirk’s on-campus consequences will include other unspecified “remedial and constructive disciplinary actions.”

Though the trustees said that it was not central to their decision, they did take into account responses from the Tabor community, stating that “overwhelming support for John [to remain as head of school despite his actions] helped to validate our belief in the value he has contributed to the school.” 

The text of the letter is as follows: 

February 13, 2020

Dear Tabor Community,

As you may be aware, our Head of School, John Quirk, was charged on January 31 with operating a vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol and at an excessive speed. Many of us were with John for a trustee dinner on campus earlier in the evening, and we were surprised to learn of this incident in the following days.

Thank you for your patience and support as we collected information and deliberated on the matter. The Board has met on multiple occasions and was guided by what is best for our students and our entire school community, as well as by Tabor’s mission and values.

As you know, safety has been one of the highest priorities of our great school and we work tirelessly to reduce risk in our community through awareness, education and the enforcement of carefully constructed rules of conduct. Drinking and driving while speeding was a crime which posed an extreme danger and a violation of our rules of conduct, prompting the Tabor Board of Trustees to evaluate his ability to lead our school.

After careful consideration, John will remain Head of School. Although gravely irresponsible, John’s recent action does not outweigh all that he has accomplished at Tabor or the continued progress we expect him to lead as Head of School. We believe that his legacy is found in the thousands of students who have graduated during his tenure and are now uplifting the world with the ability and purpose he has helped instill within them. John Quirk has contributed greatly to our efforts to fulfill the promise of Tabor Academy and offer students the greatest boarding school community experience. John has given his life to Tabor and, together with all of the faculty and staff, he has created a highly supportive community that values the experience of learning, one which includes the lessons derived from the mistakes, challenges and forgiveness along the educational path. Through the work of Tabor’s Disciplinary Committee and "two strike" policy, he has shown the students and families fairness including providing second chances and opportunities for redemption.

John has expressed deep regret regarding his actions. As part of the goal of personal accountability which is embraced at Tabor, John will be addressing students and parents and all of our community stakeholders to express his apologies, and to share what he learned and continues to learn from this incident. John will also suffer the consequences of his actions as dictated by the justice system. In addition, although we cannot provide details, as would be the case for any human resource decision, the board has implemented a number of remedial and constructive disciplinary actions based on John’s transgression. The Board believes that these actions are tailored to, and appropriate for, the nature and gravity of the situation, and will ultimately make John a better Head of School.

We wish to thank the many who have contacted us and provided input on how the news of this incident has affected you and your families. Thank you for sharing with us the importance Tabor has in your lives, and how John’s actions have impacted Tabor’s culture. An overwhelming number of you, while not approving of John’s actions, have been supportive of John and urged that he remain Head of School. Others have expressed concern and displeasure for his continued role. Although our decision was made based on our obligations as trustees, the overwhelming support for John helped to validate our belief in the value he has contributed to the school.

It is our belief that John can continue to help Tabor fulfill its mission, and it is our commitment to you that we continue to monitor, care for, and protect all that we have built as Tabor heads into an extraordinary future.

Thank you,

Tabor Academy Board of Trustees