Dear students, staff, families and community,
Following the graffiti incident at our high school last week, we had a similar incident of graffiti on our middle school campus today. The incident was swiftly investigated and resolved without a need for the schools to implement the Standard Response Protocols.
We are joining together to reach out to you to ask for your help and to provide some resources and information. In recent weeks, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of social media posts, texts and graffiti by students that are inappropriate and/or threaten the safety of our schools. With now two incidents in our district that created concerns about student safety and ultimately resulted in district, school and law enforcement investigations, we felt it was important to join together for this message.
This issue is not unique to our Blaine community. Neighboring school districts have been experiencing the same issues and you may see reports in the news of students posting what appears to be a threat of violence at school. In the vast majority of cases, these posts turn out to be non-credible threats where students did not intend harm or do not have access to weapons that could cause harm to a school. Students will often say the online post or threat was a joke. We want to emphasize to you that the safety of our children is not a joke.
In every case, we have a duty to immediately respond and assume the threat could be credible until the investigation is complete. Often, this requires dozens of school and district leaders and law enforcement to act all hours of the day and night to ensure the safety of our students. In addition, the broader impact on the entire school community cannot be overstated. This behavior always causes unnecessary worry and concern among all parents, students and staff.
When we hear of tragedies, like what occurred in a Michigan school last month, it intensifies our emotions. We want our schools to be physically and emotionally safe for our students, staff and families. We understand how families may feel on edge right now with threats on the rise nationally and locally.
We commit to you that every threat will be taken seriously. Blaine School District and Blaine Police Department work collaboratively to ensure threats are fully investigated and resolved. There are consequences for students who are guilty of threatening our schools, students or staff, and we will work together to identify those responsible for these threats and apply significant disciplinary consequences, regardless of the intent.
There are some ways you can partner with us in our efforts to put a stop to these incidents in our schools. Please consider the following:
• Please talk to your children about the consequences of posting or sharing inappropriate content or threats of violence online. Help them understand there will be a significant disciplinary consequence and a lasting effect on their future. Everything they post or share can become public even if it’s only shared with one person.
• Please monitor your child’s online and social media behavior. Here are some resources you may find helpful.
• Please remind your children if they see something, they should say something. In most cases, since we do not have access or a need to see social media posts, it is a student, parent or staff member who alerts us to a potential concern. We appreciate your support in this effort. When students quickly report incidents to administration, it helps us respond quickly and resolve the issue without having to interrupt school. Our anonymous online tool “Report It!” can also be used, or tips can be texted to (844) 201-8732.
• Please reassure children of any age that all is well and many people are working behind the scenes to keep them safe, day and night.
Our intent in sending this letter is not to cause worry or angst. It is to share what really happens when students make these choices, and to inform on the significant impacts it causes for them, their family and our entire community. We hope this leads to more open, positive conversations with your children that will help to prevent these incidents from continuing to happen. We hope these resources will help as you navigate this parenting challenge.
Thank you for taking the time to listen and for your continued efforts to keep all of our children safe both online and at school. By working together, we can support our students in this ever-changing world.
Stay safe and be well,
Chief D. Tanksley, Blaine Police Department
Dr. Christopher Granger, Superintendent, Blaine Schools