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Testing Horace Mann

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“I’ll regard it as a betrayal of me,” Schiller said.

Schiller tried to buy time, telling Sheehy they could hammer out an agreement in the coming days. But Sheehy wouldn’t have it. If Horace Mann didn’t sign his letter, he would return to campus and teach that week. In that case, Schiller warned, the school would strip him of his teaching duties.

“I’m not paranoid,” Sheehy said. “Clearly some people wanted me fired, you can’t deny that.”

“I’m not denying that,” Schiller conceded.

Schiller added that even if Horace Mann let Sheehy go, he would remain loyal and write a letter of recommendation for him. “It’s not in Horace Mann’s interests that you should be trashed. It just isn’t,” he said. “I’ll write you the letter now, you can have it and put the date on it … Maybe Tom is harboring some deep, dark, evil idea, but I don’t think so. I would know. Now, if something becomes litigious during the year, you’d be well advised to have a conversation with him.”

“It’s amazing to look at the supposed brain power of the board, or at least their earning power, and try to figure out how they made some decisions,” Sheehy said, sighing.

“I don’t know what the hell they’re going to do, and they don’t answer to me,” Schiller replied.

The tension eased. Sheehy realized he had no choice but to take the sabbatical.

“I love you, and you’re my friend,” Schiller went on. “I don’t want to deprive you of the school. I really don’t. I know it means a lot to you. But I also have to think about the health of the upper school as a whole. And I think that it’s probably a good idea, given the situation, to let everyone step back and chill out, and not to be reminded of the shit that went down last fall”—Facebook—“or the shit that went down the previous spring”—Academy X. “We need to put that behind us and get a new piece of history.”

That week, Jeffrey Robbins assumed office as the newly elected student-body president.


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