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LETTER: School communication inadequate

To The Telegram: On Jan. 15, my husband came home from the Northwestern High School boys basketball game and told me that people there had been discussing a disturbing rumor. A number of students were upset because they had heard that a student w...

To The Telegram:

On Jan. 15, my husband came home from the Northwestern High School boys basketball game and told me that people there had been discussing a disturbing rumor.

A number of students were upset because they had heard that a student who was already known to be in trouble with the school (about to be expelled) was going to come there with a gun the next day and "shoot any girls who had been mean."

My husband immediately called a school official and was reassured that they already knew of the possibility and had taken measures to ensure student safety including bringing law enforcement up to date and having a police presence at the school. This was extremely reassuring.

The next day my son reported that many students (perhaps half) did not attend. The notice he brought home from the administration began by stating that the "rumor mill" had "run rampant over the past 24 hours."

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That chastising tone seemed very inappropriate to me. I feel that it sent entirely the wrong message to all of those students who cared enough about their friends and neighbors to speak up and warn of a possible threat. Within the past year, the Maple school district had a real-life lock-down situation, proving that we in the Northland are not exempt from danger/tragedy.

Students who told each other and their parents are to be commended, not chastised as if they were simply being malicious. There is a world of difference between spreading rumors and trying to save lives. I am sure there are parents from other areas who wished that someone had the moral courage to speak up when they thought something bad might be about to happen.

I would like to commend the faculty and anyone who may have been involved in preventative actions. Luckily, this time the fear (apparently) proved to be unfounded, but had the reverse been true, all those who participated in the "rumor mill" would now be called heroes. I think we should take this opportunity to refine our response even further, specifically working on better school to parent communication. Perhaps it would be appropriate to establish a telephone line where parents could receive further information or report problems.

-- Peggy Fechtelkotter,

Poplar

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