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Educationby Fern Shen3:21 pmJan 23, 20230

Gilman teacher fired for “inappropriate conduct” with students

School officials said they are “not aware of inappropriate physical conduct” by the teacher, but have nevertheless informed Child Protective Services of the reported behavior

Above: The all-boys Gilman School in north Baltimore. (gilman.edu)

Officials at the Gilman School have discharged a middle school teacher, saying he engaged in “inappropriate out-of-school conduct” with students.

Chris Bendann, who has taught social studies at the private, all-boys school in north Baltimore since 2007, “is no longer employed by Gilman,” head of school Henry P.A. Smyth wrote in an email to alumni and alumni parents obtained by The Brew.

The school “recently learned about several reports” of the inappropriate conduct by Bendann and “immediately placed him on leave,” according to the email from Smyth sent on Friday.

The email did not share details about the behavior or when it took place but noted that the school “is not aware of inappropriate physical conduct” by Bendann toward students.

Gilman officials have reported the matter to Child Protective Services (CPS) and advise anyone wishing to report concerning interactions to contact the school or CPS at 410-887-8463.

“The behavior in question is both concerning and in direct violation of Gilman’s policies, not to mention the standards and expectations we set for appropriate conduct with students,” Smyth said in the email.

Gilman officials, contacted by The Brew, have not yet provided a response.

Smyth’s email said the issue was to be discussed with students at assemblies today in the middle and upper schools.

After publication, The Brew received an emailed response from Brooke Blumberg, director of marketing and communications at Gilman.

“As this is a personnel matter involving minors, we are not able to provide additional information,” Blumberg wrote. “The school has no further comments on this matter beyond what was shared in the letter from Head of School Henry Smyth.”

A 2003 Gilman graduate, Bendann returned in 2007 to take a job as a social studies teacher in the Middle School. In 2017, he took on additional duties as the Middle School’s admissions coordinator, according to his LinkedIn.

Bendann could not be reached for comment.

Former Gilman social studies teacher Chris Bendann. (LinkedIn)

Former Gilman social studies teacher Chris Bendann. (LinkedIn)

Past Abuse at Gilman

Revelations about past sexual abuse by teachers at Gilman – and the school’s weak response after being apprised of allegations – came to light in 2021.

An investigative report commissioned by the school and obtained by the Baltimore Sun documented sexual abuse by two teachers dating back to the 1950s and occurring as recently as 2009.

It included graphic details of the acts that took place at one teacher’s home, including massages, fondling and students’ hands and feet being tied.

The report, by consultant T&M USA, also documented the school’s failure to investigate further, alert community members to what was reported or pursue prosecution. Neither of the men was criminally charged.

In a letter to the school community at the time, Smyth said Gilman learned “lessons about the need for immediate actions when allegations arise.”

Gilman launched the investigation in 2019 after a student reported being inappropriately touched by one of the teachers when he was a student there in the 1990s.

In a letter to the school community at the time, Smyth said Gilman has learned “lessons about the need for immediate actions when allegations arise and transparency in communication if and when inappropriate behavior is confirmed.”

The school released an action plan, “Guarding Against Sexual Abuse,” that outlined practices and policies to better address and prevent sexual abuse.

– To reach the reporter: editors@baltimore brew.com

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