On Monday and Tuesday of this week, we had two different incidents that captured the attention of our students, staff and families. Our SRO, Deputy Lundberg, our principals and I were well aware of the issues, investigated them fully and worked with the families involved. Neither issue constituted a real, credible threat to our schools.
In the first case, a rumor was spread about a MS student “shooting up the school” that was completely untrue. Not a germ of truth to it. Still, the right thing happened and students who heard the rumor told parents and a few of the parents notified law enforcement of the alleged threat. Our middle school principal, Ms. Shanda DuClon, and SRO Lundberg investigated the claim thoroughly and directly, concluding that this was a middle school rumor.
Middle school students have engaged in this kind of mean spirited behavior forever. Hurtful gossip and rumors are never acceptable and through the course of the year we have had instances where a child has made up a claim that another student is intending school violence. This takes the concern to an entirely new level. Law enforcement and school administration investigate every single mention of a threat. This takes up a colossal amount of time while rocking the security we want our students to feel at school–all from a falsely reported incident. There must be consequences for children who falsely report by fabricating a story about school violence. Talk to your children about the damage done by making up any kind of rumor about another student, and most especially this kind which can result in law enforcement bringing consequences for falsely reporting.
But let me stress, if students hear something from anyone that constitutes a threat to oneself or others, they should immediately bring it to a teacher, parent, administrator or other trusted adult.
In the second case, high school students overheard part of a potentially concerning conversation and did the right thing and reported it to the high school principal, Mr. James Bialasik. He and Deputy Lundberg did a thorough investigation and concluded that there is no threat, no intention by our student to do harm to others, no hit list or “shooting up the school” plan.
“See something, say something”–that’s the mantra we’re all following. People need to report to school and law enforcement authorities when they see or hear something. If it’s after school hours and you or your child have first hand knowledge of a threat, by all means, report it to law enforcement.
At the same time, please remember that rumor and conjecture can grow exponentially. Remember that old telephone game we all played in elementary school? Whatever was stated at the beginning of the row of students is never even remotely the same at the end. This happens even more on social media. We now have two students, one MS and one HS, who are faced with wondering if everyone heard the rumors and thinks they’re going to do something to harm others. A difficult pressure for young people.
Regarding communication from the school to our students, employees and families, I will share information with you when I can. You have my absolute word that we will communicate with you, as I’m doing now, as soon as possible.
Here’s my cell phone number: 716-258-8361. Report school safety concerns to law enforcement first, especially after school hours. But you can text or call me if you’re afraid for your child because of what you’re hearing or reading on social media. I’ll tell you what I can, which may simply be “we’re aware of the issue and are working on it. We’re confident that our students and staff are safe to come to school.” I won’t ever give you the details about someone else’s child, but I’ll tell you what I can. And if we’re not confident our employees and students will be safe at school, then our emergency plans will go into play and you’ll receive a parent broadcast.
School violence is by far one of the worst tragedies of my lifetime. It’s terrifying and involves those we hold most dear, our children. Let’s work together to do the very best that we can to care for all of our SGI children.