Lower Merion Police Arrest Former MELC Employee – 2 Children Allege “Inappropriate Behavior”

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Posted by Ricky Sayer at 2:50 am on December 1st 2017

Lower Merion police have arrested a former employee of a Lower Merion after school and summer camp program following allegations of “inappropriate behavior” reported by a child. Montgomery Early Learning Centers, (MELC) an organization that runs pre and after school activities for Lower Merion children, fired the employee after a child made an initial allegation. MELC learned this week that a second child reported allegations against the same employee to authorities and that as a result the former employee was arrested.

UPDATE: Charges include: Criminal Attempt – Corruption Of Minors -Defendant Age 18 or Above, Criminal Attempt – Indecent Exposure, Unlawful Contact With Minor – Sexual
Offenses, Criminal Attempt – Open Lewdness, and Open Lewdness.

 

MELC CEO Ann O’Brien sent the following email to some families late Thursday:

“November 30, 2017

Dear MELC Parent, It is with deep regret that we write to inform you that an allegation of inappropriate behavior was made by a child in our care against a MELC staff member. As soon as we learned of the allegation, we took immediate action to protect the child, and other children in our care, by immediately reporting the allegation to Child Protective Services (“ChildLine”), suspending the employee and barring that individual from the school while we conducted an investigation. The employee was terminated at the conclusion of our investigation. We believed this was an isolated event that was best handled by the appropriate authorities. We want to reassure you that this employee was properly vetted (criminal history checks) prior to being hired and had all the appropriate clearances. This was the first time that any report of misconduct by this individual was reported to us.

Over the past week, we learned that a second child had reported inappropriate conduct by the same employee to authorities. We understand that criminal charges have been lodged and the former employee has been arrested. We are writing to advise you of these allegations because it appears that the initial incident may not have been an isolated event.

We are mindful of our responsibilities to you and your children and are concerned that we take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the children entrusted to our care, including taking steps to help uncover any additional children who may have been approached by this individual. To that end, we are contacting all families who may have had contact with this former employee at our Cynwyd Elementary program and/or Summer Camp. We are also in touch with the Montgomery County Office of the District Attorney and Lower Merion Police detective who is assigned to investigate these allegations.

This is a very difficult situation for all of us as caregivers and families. If you have any questions about how to raise this issue with your child, we are partnering with Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center for additional support. You may call them at 484-687-2990 and ask to speak with a family advocate for their expert advice. If you believe your child may have experienced any inappropriate behavior while under our care, we urge you Montgomery Early Learning Centers 201 Sabine Avenue Narberth, PA 19072 610-617-4550 melc.org to contact Detective Hunsicker (610-645-6233) of the Lower Merion Township Police Department. Because we have been advised that there are criminal charges pending against this individual, we are limited in terms of the information we can disclose. We know that it is imperative that we do nothing that might taint the integrity of the criminal process that is underway by providing too much in the way of detail.

The Lower Merion School District will be sharing this information with all elementary and middleschool families. In addition, please know that we at MELC are committed to providing any appropriate supports that our families may require and are in the process of identifying those services. Finally, we are working with Mission Kids to hold a community event in the very near future where we can come together to discuss these issues in greater depth. In the meantime, please feel to call me at 610-617- 4550 x 3027 or contact me by email at aobrien@melc.org. You may also contact Theresa Snyder, Program Director at 610-617-4550 x3025 or tsnyder@melc.org.

In closing, let me say that I am a mom first and a CEO second. I take MELC’s responsibility to ensure the safety of your children personally and seriously. This letter is difficult for me to write and I know that it is difficult for you to read. Please know that I will continue to work tirelessly, as will all MELC staff, to ensure your child’s safety and support you through this difficult time.

Ann O’Brien CEO”

Ricky Sayer is a Syracuse University student majoring in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. He is a 2017 graduate of Harriton High School of Lower Merion.

Harriton Science Olympiad Repeats as Second Place Finisher at National Competition

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By Ricky Sayer (Note: This is a breaking story, check back for updates.)

The Harriton High School Science Olympiad Team have captured second place for the second year in a row. With a score of 211, the Harriton team actually tied with the third place team Solon. Harriton was awarded second on a tiebreaker.The Harriton team has a long history of success and owns the Pennsylvania record for the longest Academic or Athletic Championship streak. This year at the state competition, the team scored a record low 39 points where they medaled in every event. At this year’s national competition, held at Wright State University, the team medaled in 10 events (out of 23). Harriton took home two 1st places in the events remote sensing and invasive species.

The Harriton team is known for their hard work and dedication. Students begin working on their events at the beginning of the school year. Many students stay at school every day after school until 5:30 preparing for competition. Harriton is led by Advisor Brian Guavin. Something unique to Harritons team is that regardless of if a teammate is competing or not, the team member is invited to come to all competitions. The team believes this fosters members to work together so the student who is competing can be the most prepared for competition.

According to a press release published on the Science Olympiad Website “Recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions, Science Olympiad brings together 120 winning middle school and high school teams advancing from state-level competitions this spring. Rigorous hands-on and lab events led by experts from government agencies, top universities and Science Olympiad state chapters cover topics in physics, epidemiology, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology and engineering.”

Harriton medaled in the following events:

Remote Sensing – 1st

Optics – 2nd

Microbe Mission – 3rd

Materials Science – 4th

Invasive Species – 1st

Electric Vehicle – 3rd

Dynamic Planet – 4th

Disease Detectives – 3rd

Chemistry Lab – 3rd
Anatomy and Physiology – 3rd

This story will be updated soon with more information.

Ricky Reports is not affiliated with Harriton High School

Harriton Boys Basketball Coach Jesse Rappaport Leaves Team to Take Assistant Job at Penn State Brandywine

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By Ricky Sayer

Bryn Mawr PA—After a decade of coaching the Harriton Boys Basketball team, Coach Jesse Rappaport has decided to step down from his position of the team’s head coach so he can take an Assistant Coaching position at Penn State Brandywine. Coach Rappaport led the Rams to the playoffs 8 of his 10 years coaching.

For Rappaport, coaching on the collegiate level has been a lifelong dream, so when he received a call last Thursday from Ben Kay, the new coach at Penn State Brandywine, it was an opportunity he could not pass up. “The new head coach there had reached out to me and just made a very convincing argument, and I know him I respect him, I like the staff, and it just feels like a nice opportunity,” said Coach Rapp.

Rappaport, who will stay on as a history teacher at Harriton High School, said that Kay called him up Thursday, mere hours after he himself accepted the Brandywine job. Kay told Rapp he would be his “first hire, his assistant to help rebuild [the] program.”

A couple of college coaches have contacted Rappaport over the years but as he said, he “put it on the back burner.” Since then the coach has been engaged and has had many things change in his life “Before I get out of coaching, this has been a dream to try college, and I dint know if I would ever be there.”

Rappaport said that he would only leave Harriton “for the right situation. You don’t know what’ll happen. Here was an opportunity where [the university] is only 30 minutes away, I could still do it [and teach.]

Kay told Rappaport that he would schedule practices at a time that would allow him to still teach at Harriton, “He’s going to do it at a time that fits me, so I can still teach, but not too late so I would get home at [a very late hour].”

Even with all of the positives, the decision was still a challenging one for Rappaport, as he would have to leave the team he built for 10 years.

“It was a very tough decision, probably the toughest decision of my life, but it was just something that I just always wanted to do [which] is coach college. It was an opportunity also. It’s tough to walk away, it’s very tough” Rappaport said.

Harriton Athletic Director Thomas Ferguson, who helped hire coach Rappaport in 2007, said that, “We’re sorry to see coach Rappaport go. He has done a great job here at Harriton, but I understand, trying to move to the college level is something he is looking to do. Were gonna miss him. We’d like to thank him for all of what he has done here at Harriton for 10 years, he’s run a great program and we’ve done really well. We’re gonna miss him and we wish him the best of luck.”

A key factor in Coach Rappaports decision to take the job at PSU Brandywine was his prior relationship with their new coach Ben Kay. Kay graduated from Harriton in 2007 right as Rappaport was being hired. Since then, Rapp says that “our paths have crossed through team camps and he had seen our team play.” Rappaport and Kay even live right around the corner from one another. “We play pickup basketball against each other sometimes,” said Rappaport.

Kay, who spent the last two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for West Chester University, said that “I’ve known Coach Rappaport for ten years from playing with him, watching him coach Harriton, and recruiting his players. We are excited to have him on staff with his 20 years of coaching experience and his college playing experience at Hobart. He is going to bring great energy and knowledge of the game to the program and his high character is exactly what we are looking for.”

Harriton’s Mr. Ferguson, who was AD at the time that Ben Kay played at Harriton had this to say about Kay, “He’s a great kid. He’s put hard work and time in, I think that’s what attracted coach Rappaport to help [him]. That’s the kind of guy he is. He wants to help him grow a program. He didn’t just want to leave to go to a college, he is going to work with someone he really likes and respects and wants to help.

Coach Rappaport leaves behind a bright legacy at Harriton, where he turned around a team that had won 3 games in the season before he arrived into a team that went to the playoffs for 7 consecutive seasons. He saw his Rams go from being a AAA team in 2008 to being a AAAAA in 2017. Even with the changes, his teams made the AAA district Quarterfinals 3 times, a AAA district final 4 appearance, A final four central league appearance, and four consecutive Southern Lehigh Tip off Tournament championships.
Rappaport said that “I worked extremely hard my whole life to get to this point. What I wanted to do and what I think from coming here and really seeing a program that was down and kicked in the mud, was coming off some extremely tough seasons, just I am very proud of what we were able to build. I really mean weight, I really thank the players, the players made it happen. I’m very blessed that to continue to still have close relationships with them. I was talking to many of them the past couple of days and it was very tough telling them, but I wouldn’t be in the position if it weren’t for them. Obviously there are some great memories of district final 4s and central league final 4s and upsets in the playoffs and things like that, but the main thing was the relationships, that was really the best part.”

Will Esposto was the star player on Coach Rappaports team in 2016-2017. He first learned that his coach would be leaving Harriton on Monday after Rappaport informed all the returning varsity players. Will congratulated his coach and told him “You gotta do what’s best for you, lotta big things going on in his life.” Will also said that Rappaport was very reluctant to leave the players he had coached for years.

For Will, Rappaport was more than just a coach, “He was great,” Will said, “he was really big for me around the time my mom passed. He was really really supportive with the whole team there. He taught me more than just Basketball, he talked about how you create your habits that last you for the rest of your life. He was definitely good at going beyond the court and [teaching] actual life lessons… He’s gonna do big things, he’s gonna do big things for sure. I’m happy for him.”

Drew Levin, a Junior at Harriton and a player on the basketball team said that next year, without Rappaport “I think that it’s gonna be different, it’s a little disappointing cause for a lot of us we grew up with Rapp, you know we’ve known him since middle school. Its going to be interesting to see what happens but I’m happy for Rapp.”

Another student, Will Thomas, who played under Rapp for two years and one year as manger, said that “Going to Penn state Brandywine is a great opportunity for him to coach college basketball and possibly at a higher level. Were gonna miss him at Harriton, he was here 10 years strong. A great coach and a great guy overall.”

Sophie Grady, star of the girls basketball team who scored 1000 points this year expressed how some students felt about Coach Rapp leaving the team, “I think it’s really sad for the Harriton program. We love Rapp, it’s nice having a teacher as a coach, I’ll definitely miss him.”

Rappaport is a graduate of Hobart college, where he won multiple awards including for a buzzer beater shot that beat the number 3 team in the country.

Rappaport played on the Israeli team Hapoel Nahariah from 1996 to 1998

Mr. Ferguson said that he has begun the process of finding a new Harriton head coach. Jesse Rappaport said he is assisting with the search.

When asked about the state of the team as he leaves it “I think the program is in great shape, the team is going to do very well next year, there is great talent, we really turned a corner this year, we were able to get back to where we were a few years ago. Their number one fan will always be me.

As for his years coaching Harriton’s team, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it has been an amazing ten years, it was a dream come true.”

Ricky “Reports” Sayer is a senior at Harriton High School who will be attending Syracuse University starting in the fall of 2017. RickyReports.TV is in no way affiliated with Harriton High School.