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.