Dear LMSD Families,
Last week, I shared information with our LMSD community regarding an incident at Bala Cynwyd Middle School involving threatening text messages. I understand that this has been an emotionally charged, difficult and scary situation for many. We are thankful that the students and families involved have been extremely forthcoming and remorseful throughout this process.
In collaboration with the Lower Merion Township Police, the school Threat Assessment Team and mental health professionals, the determination was made that the texts in question did not indicate an actual threat to our school students or staff. While this may bring some relief, the truth is, given the current climate of our country and multiple incidents that have already transpired this year, it is not lost on me how challenging these situations are. Legal and student privacy limitations have hampered our ability to fully communicate details of the incident to everyone’s satisfaction; I truly regret the distress and uncertainty this has created.
We have learned a lot and will continue to work to rectify the valid concerns presented to our utmost ability. Clearly, the need for proactive engagement, communication, collaboration and coalition-building in order to support our students in this difficult time is paramount.
My message today is not intended to minimize the impact of words, but rather to underscore that threatening language, hate speech, bullying and other harassing behavior are unacceptable and subject to disciplinary action. As a District, we rededicate ourselves to more proactively working with our community and ensuring that when there are behavioral breaches, they are addressed in accordance with our policies, similarly across our buildings, and that impacted families involved feel fully supported and as well-informed as possible under the circumstances.
Regarding the most recent incident at BCMS, all students involved in this incident have received support and consequences in alignment with District Policy. As shared, there is no current threat with this situation to our school community. I understand that this may not quell fears, nor does it absolve the District from possible other threats and challenges.
As many of these students return to school on Monday, April 17, 2023, it is important to remember and remind our students of a few key things and I ask for your help in doing so:
1. In regards to this specific situation, students and staff are safe and there is no immediate threat. In regards to the current world we live in, we all must do our part to look out for one another, to protect and support our school community and students.
2. Words, actions, intent and impact all matter. Be mindful of the language that you use and who you are using it with and in what way, whether through texts, in person or in school.
3. All people make mistakes. As educators and families, our job is to help children learn from their mistakes with appropriate consequences and support. It is not appropriate to isolate or shame students involved in this situation or any (when appropriate) but rather, work in coalition to support and move forward.
4. All LMSD community members are expected to be respectful, kind and caring of one another and abide by the student code of conduct. When that does not happen, each individual will be held accountable appropriately and in alignment with our policies.
5. When a student or community member sees something wrong, scary, mean, or inappropriate, they should always come forward and share. If a report doesn’t receive an expected or hoped-for response, please reach out directly to the Superintendent's office to share, so that it can be followed up on.
My sincere hope is that all children in this incident, with the guidance and support of their families and the staff at BCMS, are able to heal and move forward as a community. Our administrative team are committed to ongoing partnership and improvement in our communication and ways in which we work with you to ensure our district is moving forward together on behalf of students.
Megan E. Shafer