A Threat at My School this Week

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

A scary thing happened at my school this week that relates directly to one of the main reasons why I am running for Board of Education.

I teach at Thomas Edison HS of Technology. Our office received a call that someone who MIGHT have a weapon was headed our way from Wheaton HS next door. This happened during one of the busiest times of our day - just as afternoon buses were arriving - and prompted a shelter in place.

What made matters worse: 9-1-1 calls indicating a possible weapon INSIDE the school prompted a full lock down and significant police response.

I was in the parking lot, just arriving from a meeting when it all went down. My teaching partner and students were inside. I was in touch by phone, but you can imagine how concerned I was for their safety.

Fortunately neither turned out to be true. The individual had no weapon, nor was one found in the school. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get things back to normal, including a student competition that was scheduled for that day.I’m thankful for our principal, staff and police who responded and handled the situation.  BUT: this is happening WAY too often. But we CANNOT accept this as the new normal.Parents send their children to school every day to get an education. Students come to learn. We must ensure that they are safe.

Here’s one of the important lessons we learned this week:

When our schools are forced to shelter in place or go on lockdown due to threats and incidents real or perceived, there’s an emotional cost that we cannot ignore. I learned that firsthand this week. The Bethesda Beat captured it perfectly in their headline: “I Don’t Know If I Want To Go To School Tomorrow.”

How kids and adults in the building feel after an incident like this MATTERS. Students can’t learn – teachers can’t teach - and support professionals can’t do their jobs - if they’re scared, or anxious. As a Board of Education member, here’s how I’d address that:

Before he threat at Edison, there was another nearby at Kennedy HS, 5 Clarksburg students were arrested for bringing a handgun to school, and there was a  threat against Blair High School on Sunday, leading to the absence of 700 students on Monday. All in one week - the same week that marked the 2nd anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Here is some guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics about how to talk to children at different ages and stages about tragedies and other news events.

And please make sure your kids have the Safe Schools Maryland Tip Line in their phone contacts to anonymously report concerns about violence, drugs, suicide or other issues.

Finally, make sure you're signed up for Alert MCPS to receive emergency notifications.

Let's do everything we can to stay informed, and keep our kids safe.

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