Friday, April 11, 2008

Update on Dr. Mel Levine: Schools Make Decisions on Dr. Levine's Seminars as North Carolina Residents Come Forward with Abuse Allegations

Click Here for the August 5, 2008 New York Times Update.

On Monday, April 7th, my daughters brought home fliers from Mendham Township Elementary School that announced that the presentation by Dr. Mel Levine scheduled for April 8th had been cancelled and we learned from a statement on the MTES web site that Dr. Mel Levine had been accused of child abuse during his 1967-1985 tenure with Children's Hospital in Boston. Roxiticus Desperate Housewives has been blogging about it (see the full story here) and trying to follow the story and court case as it unfolds.

Dr. Levine is both a renowned pediatrician and a learning expert. He has written several books including "A Mind at a Time," which focuses on how different minds learn differently. Levine, who trained as a resident at the hospital in 1965, is now a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School in Chapel Hill. He retired from full-time work in 2006 but continued to see patients twice a month, according to university officials. On April 3rd, Dr. Levine voluntarily decided to stop seeing patients because of the lawsuits against him, and on April 4th, he suspended his North Carolina medical license.

Civil Lawsuits and Attorney Contact Information:
Since the five lawsuits were filed on March 31st, Carmen Durso, the Boston attorney representing at least five of the alleged victims says about 16 other people have contacted him (617-728-9123) with similar allegations. In addition, Raleigh attorney Elizabeth Kuniholm (919-854-4454) has agreed to help North Carolina residents with legal questions or help with contacing the North Carolina Medical Board.

To see the WCVB-TV NewsCenter Five (the ABC network affiliate in Boston) report on the child abuse allegations against Dr. Mel Levine, including an interview with Boston lawyer Carmen L. Durso, click here to access the YouTube Video.

Scheduled Presentations, Seminars, and Workshops:
Parents of children who attend Mendham Township Elementary School or Mendham Township Middle School had marked our calendars and purchased tickets months ago for a presentation from Dr. Mel Levine. As I learned from a review of the calendar on Dr. Levine's web site, All Kinds of Minds, Dr. Levine's seminars at schools around the country have been "sold out" well in advance.

Each school district has a difficult decision to make on whether to move forward with the presentations by Dr. Levine.

Mendham Township School District cancelled Dr. Levine's presentation scheduled for Tuesday, April 8th and issued the following Statement from Dr. Christine Johnson, Superintendent:
"Please be advised that the presentations for the community on the evening of April 8, 2008 and for the staff during the day on April 9, 2008 by Dr. Mel Levine have been cancelled. We have just learned from published news accounts that Dr. Levine has been accused, in a civil lawsuit, of child abuse. Although the district has no way of knowing whether the allegations are true, the district has decided to cancel the events due to the seriousness and the nature of the charges."

The Crossroads School in Paoli, PA appears to have moved forward with their scheduled presentation and workshop by Dr. Levine on April 10th and 11th.


The Harding Township Educational Foundation (HTEF) has postponed the speaking engagement of Dr. Mel Levine who was scheduled to present to members of the community at the Harding Township School on April 15th, stating that the HTEF decision was made in response to a March 31, 2008 lawsuit filed against Dr. Levine alleging misconduct against patients in his care during the 1980s at Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Levine denies the allegations. While the HTEF does not express an opinion on the merits of the lawsuit, we are mindful that Dr. Levine is "presumed innocent" until proven otherwise under our legal system. In light of the sensitive nature of the allegations contained in the complaint, however, the HTEF, after consultation with the Harding Township School administration and the Harding Township Board of Education, has determined that a postponement of the public engagement is prudent. Because the HTEF stands behind its commitment to and enthusiasm for the “Schools Attuned” program, it has renewed its financial support for the program for the 2008-2009 school year, and will consider whether it may be appropriate to invite Dr. Levine to present at a later date.
intellectual development."


Dirigo Educational Conferences in Bangor, Maine, has taken a different point of view and is moving forward with Dr. Levine's presentation on "Education All Kinds of Minds: A Non-Labeling Approach to Understanding Differences in Learning" on April 30, 2008, with the following Letter to Participants:
On March 31st in Boston, an attorney for plaintiff's in a lawsuit filed in 2005 against Dr. Mel Levine and Boston Children's Hospital held a press conference about the case. The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Levine sexually abused five boys he treated at Boston Children's Hospital between the years of 1967-1985. Media in the greater Boston area has covered this story.

Dr. Levine's attorney has issued the following statement:
“Dr. Mel Levine has provided pediatric care to more than 15,000 children over 40 years and categorically denies that he has ever been abusive in any way toward any patient. He adamantly denies these claims.

Dr. Levine is distressed about the distorted or mispresented memories from decades past, and questions the motivations. He prefers not to participate further in counsel's efforts to obtain free advertising for his legal practice.”

Dr. Levine intends to participate in our April conference. Questions about the lawsuit should be addressed to his attorney, Edward Mahoney at 617-227-3240.

We can appreciate the anxiety you might feel about participating in this event. Here is our personal perspective. We are parents of a young man who has a learning difference. He has struggled throughout his school career. Some of that struggle was, in our opinion, needless. His teachers and others who came in contact with him did not understand his kind of mind and thus were unable to adjust their interactions with him so that he was able to be successful and feel successful. We believe this lack of understanding was detrimental to him and could have been alleviated if people had a better understanding of mind differences. In order to foster more understanding, both from parents and professionals, we asked Dr. Levine if he would be willing to speak to audience about his ideas related to “All Kinds of Minds”. He agreed and the conference was on. We still believe that the message about neurodevelopment constructs is an important message to share.

As we've seen in the national coverage of the Duke Lacrosse suit, it is all too easy to let a person be tried by the media. We believe in the tenet that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Since we do not know and can not know the truth we are not going to pass judgment on this matter. We understand that others may feel differently.


New York City Parents in Action & Mount Sinai Childrens Foundation are continuing with Dr. Levine's seminar scheduled for April 17th in Manhattan, with no statement on their web site.


On Monday, April 28th, I posted a brief update on the case entitled "Equal Time for Dr. Mel Levine."