Message from Paul DeRoo - rumor of threat 11-9-19

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A MESSAGE FROM PRINCIPAL PAUL DEROO 

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November 9, 2019

Dear Bates Middle School Families:

As many of you are aware, there have been a number of online posts last night and today about rumors of a threat of violence at our school on Monday. I am writing to let you know that our school, our school system, and county police have aggressively investigated this matter and determined that there is no credible threat.

It is important to note the online posts of which we are aware either asked whether anyone else had heard of a threat or relayed secondhand (or thirdhand) information that the posted had heard. Our school team and police were able to interview some of those who posted information and learned through those interviews that the statement about violence was allegedly made on a school bus yesterday afternoon. Further investigation led to the name of a student, and that student and the student’s parent have been interviewed.

The comment that was interpreted to be a threat was actually a comment between several students who were joking about how a musical instrument case resembled a sniper case. This matter points out, however, how something that begins as a joke can, especially through social media, become something far different.

Police have determined that the student has no access to weapons.

I am thankful to police and our school team for their quick work in this case. I know that anxiety has risen greatly over the last 24 hours, and I am glad that we are able to put this rumor to rest. I realize, as well, that there is likely to be some lingering anxiety when school resumes on Monday. To that end, we have asked the Annapolis Police Department to have an additional presence at our school simply to reassure students and parents.

I implore you to have serious conversations not just with your child, but with each other, about the ramifications of posting questions or “I heard” statements on social media. If you become aware of what you believe to be a threat to our school or any school, I urge you to call police immediately. Please do not use social media as that means of police notification.

Any safety concern can also be addressed through our school system’s Student Safety Hotline at 877-676-9854 that can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sincerely,

Paul DeRoo

Principal

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