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Elite New York City private school reveals college-admission sabotage

By Rande Iaboni, CNN
October 16, 2013 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
  • School says someone sent a malicious letter about a student to college admissions offices
  • Horace Mann School says it's investigating the letter
  • College admissions offices informed the school about the letter
  • School is not revealing details of the letter or naming the student targeted

New York (CNN) -- In the cutthroat world of elite New York City private schools, the college admission process can bring out the worst in people.

One senior student at a prestigious private school is learning that the hard way, after someone sent a malicious letter to colleges, apparently with the intention of sabotaging that student's prospects for admission, according to school officials of Horace Mann School in Manhattan.

The student named in the destructive letter was made aware of the incident, and officials at Horace Mann have been working with the student's family to investigate the nasty note, according to a letter addressed to senior students and parents that was obtained by CNN on Tuesday.

Horace Mann officials are not releasing the name of the student in the letter.

"I've been in contact with deans of admission at several of the colleges in an effort to minimize the damage," Canh Oxelson, director of college counseling at Horace Mann, said in the letter.

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Oxelson was alerted to the sabotaging letter by admissions offices of numerous colleges that had received it, according to a school official.

It is unclear exactly what was written in the letter in question.

"The claims made in the letter are absolutely false and while we don't know who wrote and sent the letter, an investigation is ongoing," Oxelson said.

"I have never witnessed anything so disrespectful," said Oxelson. "For a student to have worked so hard for so many years, only to have those efforts jeopardized by an act of sabotage, is absolutely unconscionable."

Oxelson said one of the inquiries that college admissions officials had for him was whether or not the letter's author would also be applying to colleges that received the letter -- which brings into question whether the saboteur is a fellow student.

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"There are positive and negative stereotypes out there about the HM community," Oxelson said. "While we don't have control over everything that is said about us, we do have some ability to shape those opinions among those trying to get to know us."

Horace Mann School is no stranger to controversy following a child sexual abuse scandal in 2012. Founded in 1887, it is known as a highly selective independent college preparatory school in New York City.

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