Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rumor has it........

So before the snow storm, Purcellville had a small storm of its own.  This story in the Loudoun Times Mirror sums it up.  I stand behind what I was quoted as saying. However, I feel I must add to it.

The incident was rectified on a Friday.  Monday was a student holiday, and it was on Monday when my daughter started receiving text messages indicating there was a threat that would take place on Tuesday at school.  On Monday evening at 8:55 pm,  Principal Ross sent out an email and phone message to all parents that there was no threat to students and staff.

A Facebook page for LVHS parents became a hotbed of discussion Monday evening, and many opinions were voiced. When one parent got accusatory and belligerent with how the school was handling the situation, the moderator for the page deleted the entire thread.  I agree with his actions because it was only fueling the fire and not helping.

My husband and I shared Principal Ross's message to students with our LVHS student and explained that there was no threat. She was undeterred in her anxiety and unease about attending school the next day.  Rather than send my daughter to school and add to an already tense day for the LVHS staff, I allowed her to stay home. Instead of having a stressed day, she got to enjoy our time together without her siblings. In the end, I believe she had a good day, giving her the energy and strength to go back to school while still processing her grief over the suicide of a classmate.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Principle Ross and School Resource Officer Bill Schoeb handled and rectified the situation quickly and they should be commended for their swift action.  They had no idea that the information on the threat would get out the way in which it did. Without that knowledge, they had no reason to to believe a statement to parents and staff was necessary.

In many instances, however, parents have been notified. When a bomb threat was called into Woodgrove, students were evacuated, and parents were notified immediately.  Action on the threat was taken before it was found to be unsubstantiated, which was the case. This led to a lack of misinformation being spread as Woodgrove students were texting their parents and social media was starting to spread the information as it unfolded.  It all had ended before it had a chance to begin.

This recent incident at LVHS should serve as a learning lesson perhaps on how to handle such incidences going forward.  An email to parents on Friday or Saturday simply stating that a threat had been made, and an investigation found it to be unsubstantiated would have kept the person(s) involved confidential and may have been enough for parents to help shut the rumor mill before it took on a life of its own.  Without any knowledge of what had transpired on Friday, parents were left to feel fear and anxiety along with their children.

Rumors grow more deformed as they travel.  It isn't always easy to predict when and if a rumor will run rampant.  I believe that the school is better equipped to deal with and halt such situations as this in the future.

Our LVHS staff is human.  As are the students and parents.

We are all doing the best we can. Let's focus on creating a healthy environment for our students and that starts with supporting our school in any way that we can.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

More Reason to Run for Political Office

I disagree with Mr. Lazaro in his posting made through LinkedIn. His rhetoric that there is "a cancer of negativity" or that to run may put you in harms way. Ironically, he admonishes the negativity but then takes part in it by being critical of one of his former council colleagues.

During my time in office, the Purcellville Gazette has been critical to Mayor Fraser and myself, their bias no less visible than the bias that was lodged against the Blue Ridge Leader by former Mayor Lazaro. When I feel a response is necessary to what is written in the Gazette, I have done so (I did when a Leesburg Today article was full of inaccuracies). However, in this time, I have not had anyone disparage my family or me personally. If I am criticized due to my votes or my opinion, that is simply not personal. If a person can not in any way handle those criticisms that come with the political spotlight, then yes, this isn't for you.

Former Board of Supervisor Janet Clarke expressed to many that I was "mean" to her while she was in office (this, before I had ever met her). Her successor, current Supervisor Tony Buffington, has taken up this juvenile sentiment. It bothers me none because they clearly do not understand the difference between personal and professional criticism.

First, while it is necessary and important to develop a thicker skin, we in political office should not become so resistant that we ignore powerful lessons or fail to listen to those who criticize us. Second, do not let criticism dampen your passion for a valid objective. Successful leaders typically combine passion with courage and dedication to achieving results, no matter the challenges.

The philosopher Plato said, "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." And this holds true today. If you don't participate in politics, you risk not having a say in what happens and allowing people with less experience, skill or knowledge to influence the decisions being made around you.

I spoke up and out about my local representation because I felt myself and those around me were not being heard or represented. If you feel the same, regardless of whether you agree with my politics or not, stand up and run!