Germantown Academy Families: Forum on Fixing Bullying Climate at School Where Shoulberg Coached Swimming Didn’t Go Well

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by Irvin Muchnick


A couple of weeks ago we previewed a March 9 meeting at which Sue Swearer, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln psychology professor who is an expert on bullying and harassment issues, would be presenting findings of a study of the climate at the Germantown Academy outside Philadelphia.

This is where legendary USA Swimming coach Dick Shoulberg got forced out amidst allegations that his program fostered athlete-on-athlete physical assaults, as well as ongoing and unchecked abusive behavior by the coach himself. A civil lawsuit against Germantown by a former Shoulberg swimmer is pending.

Concussion Inc. has spoken with parents who attended the meeting, in which Swearer gave an overview of her year-long survey of the campus environment, based on responses to a questionnaire. Her presentation was followed by break-out discussion groups.

The Shoulberg-based lawsuit, the predicate of Swearer’s consultancy for the school, was not explicitly cited. Parents said the discussions extended to general complaints that the campus was emotionally unsafe, with numerous issues and examples raised, leading to contentious conversation before the session was adjourned.

Neither Swearer nor Germantown’s new head of school, Rich Schellhas, responded to our requests for comment on this story. Swearer also has ignored several requests to disclose how much the school is paying her.


Complete headline links to our Dick Shoulberg series are at

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick