Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2018

How schools handled a student hoax

Oct 12, 2017

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

Monday morning students and staff returned to school after class was canceled last Friday due to concerns about safety.

After an investigation by the school district and the police department, it was found out that a supposed threat made by a student was a hoax.

On Monday, a staff meeting was held at 7:30 a.m. in each building to discuss what happended last week, Washington superintendent Jeff Dicks said.

“Each building has a plan on how to discuss the issue depending on the age appropriateness of the students,” he added.

During his staff meeting, Washington High School principal Eric Buchholz said he discussed what steps were taken during the investigation to take care of the situation and what to do now.

“What I think is really important out of this whole thing is we are living in a time of quick accusations and attack mode and I have some individuals who made some poor choices,” Buchholz said. “Someone got hurt in the process of it. We’ve been able to turn part of that around but I still have the individuals who made the poor choices, I don’t want them to be the next ones in the line of fire. We have to be able to understand that poor choices were made and we forgive and move forward. It’s a very important part of what I refer to as the healing process.”

The administration staff at the high school decided not to have an all school assembly, Buchholz said. Instead, he advised his staff to go about the day as normal.

“But if any students wanted to have a conversation (about it) it then obviously put aside what you’re planning on doing at that point,” he said. “Address the conversation with the focus on appropriate use of social media.”

The student who was accused of making the threat returned to school Tuesday morning.

“It seemed to me he was welcomed at the school,” Buchholz said. “It seemed like he was doing really well. I haven’t had a specific conversation with him after the day to find out how the day [went]. I passed him in the hallway today and asked him how things were going and he said, ‘OK.’”

However, Buchholz didn’t want to assume that student was doing all right, he said. They are prepared to work with all of the individuals involved in the incident.

When asked what the punishment would be for the two indviduals who claimed there was a threat at the high school, Buchholz said he couldn’t go into detail for confidentiality reasons but added there were “consequences.”

At Lincoln Elementary School, principal Teresa Beenblossom said they have gotten a lot of questions from students about last week. “With the students at our level we reiterated that safety is our top priority at the school and if they feel unsafe to report to an adult at school and an adult at home,” Beenblossom said.

They are also using a book called “Mr. Peabody’s Apples” by Madonna in their guidance classes, she said.

“In the book, Mr. Peabody is the beloved elementary school teacher and baseball coach who one day finds himself ostracized when rumors spread through the small town,” Beenblossom said. “Mr. Peabody silences the gossip with and unforgettable and poignant lesson about how we must choose our words carefully to avoid harm to others.”

This is also something Buchholz would like people to remember when they post something on social media or see things posted.

“We need to be aware of what we’re posting,” Buchholz said. “One of the things superintendent Dicks has taught us is it’s called a squint test. If you look at something and you’re like uh then you probably shouldn’t send it out. As a worse case scenario at least bounce it off someone else. I just ask everybodt to be able to think about what you post, make sure in the process whatever you’re posting nobody can be hurt and if we can all do that — that answer why can’t everybody get along gets a lot easier.”



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