The Character and Integrity Task Force is a new initiative that aims to review the school’s disciplinary philosophy, policy, and implementation. Chaired by Dean of Students Mr. Tim Dougherty, the task force will also include other members of Malvern’s community such as Mr. Talbot, Father Flynn, Mrs. Feeney, Mr. Valyo, and Mr. Algeo.
Along with academic integrity, the main focus of the group will be on other character issues such as drugs and alcohol, digital citizenship, and respect for differences, according to Head of School Mr. Talbot.
However, Talbot is quick to note that this list isn’t exhaustive, but rather representative. Issues that arise over time will also be addressed. Input from parents and faculty will also be considered.
Despite the fact that the basic structure and purpose of the Character and Integrity Task Force has been developed, some of the details have not yet been planned out. Because of this, the task force has not been publically announced, according to Talbot.
The reasons for starting this task force are twofold, said Talbot.
One of the reasons is due to a series of incidents, some of which have to do with academic integrity and other behavioral incidents such as drinking on Christian service trips and vandalizing property, according to Talbot.
“The other reason is rooted in Malvern’s own Augustinian mission and values,” Talbot said.
Most members of the Malvern community will get a chance to participate on the Task Force, according to Talbot. However, most roles within the task force will be limited. “I want to make sure that people understand their roles. The way I would characterize it is [that] there are three kind of species of people involved in this,” said Talbot.
“There are people who ultimately decide what we change or what we preserve. That would be the members of the leadership team and the educational administrator team,” Talbot explained.
“The next group would be the recommenders. So the other members of the task force [such as] teachers, staff, alumni, trustees, parents.”
“The third group would be consultants or advisors. They may or may not make a recommendation. But they would be sharing their perspectives. Students would share perspectives. Other parents not on the task force would share perspectives. But they are not at the point of making a formal recommendation,” Talbot said.
According to Talbot, students might serve for the most part as advisors or consultants. However, there may be instances where students could become a subcommittee and submit a formal recommendation.
The reason for the limited role of students in this task force is due to an inherent conflict of interest.
“[As a student,] you want to have a say at the table. But we also have to make sure that we are not creating conflicts of interest where students are actually recommending or deciding upon policies that might, for example, minimize or eliminate penalties, when in fact we really do need those things.” Talbot explained.
At this point, the administration is unsure of how this task force will be received by students. “I can’t anticipate student perception until changes occur,” says Mr. Dougherty.
However, Dougherty is looking forward to the discussion. “It is exciting to self assess and see what is needed and what is not,” he said.
As the Character and Integrity task force starts to become more defined, Talbot still believes that the purpose of this task force is to improve, rather than fix.
“I don’t think that we have a corrupt culture. I don’t think that we have some rotten core that needs to be carved out or replaced. I think this is a healthy place. And that’s a good thing.” Talbot said.
“Malvern kids are good kids. For me, it is about taking a good thing and making it better.”