Oxford University’s orphanage, which has been under fire for its treatment of young people, has finally acknowledged its past, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Oxford Academy for Young People president and chief executive Michael Brown released a statement to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, saying the university has long “apologized to its community” for its handling of young African Americans, and has committed to making amends.
The academy, founded in 1874, has been at the center of a national controversy after a series of damning reports alleging widespread mistreatment of young black and Latino students.
The academy, which is one of the largest and most selective private schools in the country, claims to teach more than 400 years of American history and culture, but has been criticized for allegedly under-reporting its statistics on student violence.
Oxbridge Academy for Youth director James M. Williams said in a statement that “we understand the pain and distress that our community has felt and the anger that we have felt, and we do not deny that we were wrong to do so.”
“We believe the academy has a responsibility to be a source of support for all students in our community,” he said.
“It is our responsibility to make sure that we are helping students learn the most about themselves and their culture, and that they are not only aware of the positive aspects of their heritage, but are also willing to accept and embrace the cultural traditions of our nation.”
“The Academy for Kids is a vibrant community where young people of all races and backgrounds can thrive, thrive, flourish, and thrive, and it is our hope that as we move forward, that the Academy will not only continue to strive for excellence in our own academy, but will be an example to others.”
In February, a BuzzFeed News investigation found that students at the orphanage were frequently assaulted and mistreated.
In an email, Brown said the academy would continue to be transparent about its past “to provide students with a safe learning environment and for us to ensure that we can move forward as a community.”
In response to the reports, the university apologized in a letter sent to parents in September.
The apology included a series in-depth articles on the history of the academy, and included a list of past violations.
The list included a 2013 email sent by Brown to a staff member that said: “I know that many of you are angry.
It is your duty as parents to make it clear that we did nothing wrong.
I have never personally seen an academy that was so abusive to young people.”
The academy has also been named in a lawsuit brought by the families of former students who were allegedly sexually assaulted.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Brown, who said he was unaware of the abuse, said he felt “vindicated” by the apology.
“We know that there are people who feel that we made a mistake,” Brown said.
“That’s what’s really satisfying.
We were able to move forward.
We had the best of intentions.
We didn’t make any mistakes.”
He added: “That [statement] was my sincere apology.
I did not mean to come off like a jerk.
I was not trying to be dismissive.”
Brown said the apology is part of an effort to ensure “we can move ahead as a responsible, responsible institution, as we have for many, many years.”
He said the school is also working with local law enforcement to review their procedures.
“I think there’s been a lot of concern that we may have a culture that is not really supportive of these young people and their needs,” he added.
Brown said his goal is to have the academy open again as soon as possible, but that there will be “some issues with what happened.”
He noted that he will not be making any new hires.
“I don’t want to go back and hire people that we don’t have any contact with.
I’m going to look at what we can do, what we have learned, and see what we do differently in the future,” he told BuzzFeed News in an interview.”
What’s important is that we do everything we can to move ahead with a very different institution.”