Dear Parents and Community Members,
Although the “dust has settled”, our work continues and now is the time to begin moving forward. In order to accomplish this task, it is imperative that we establish our intent. A school district represents the collective values of a community and must uphold these values at all times. Additionally, the character of a community is not only demonstrated in how it handles its successes, but also how it works through its challenges. The events of this week are a perfect opportunity for EB to live up to these standards, acknowledge the problem and address it as a community.
With this in mind, the events of this past week were dangerously unacceptable and must be addressed in a way that best reflects our values. It is unconscionable that any student anywhere would believe it is appropriate to communicate threatening pictures with derogatory remarks to a fellow classmate. In 2023, with over 25 years of school-related violence becoming so prevalent in our culture, this type of action is indefensible and potentially abusive to our community at large. An objective truth that I know we all accept is that these kinds of behaviors are NEVER a joke.
Also concerning and counterproductive to our efforts, is the apparent belief that all people are entitled to all information at all times; in real time. Although social media has created a popular culture of “immediate gratification” streaming continuously, that expectation is simply unreasonable and potentially unsafe. It takes time and diligence to properly conduct an investigation, regardless of the severity. Spreading unsubstantiated hearsay on social media outlets threatens the integrity of the investigation and stokes contempt within our community. The EB school district will not contribute to the conversation in this way. Furthermore, the actions in question were committed by EB students, who are equally part of our community; and are therefore entitled to the same right to privacy and unbiased consideration of the facts.
The events themselves took less than 2 hours, while understandably, the investigations and expected apprehensiveness continued throughout the week. Please understand that in situations like these, EBPS and the EB Police work in tandem toward the only real goal: keeping all our students and staff safe. To that end and out of an abundance of caution, all threats will continue to be taken seriously, regardless of the eventual outcome. All parents, students, faculty, and staff at EBPS have the right to expect a safe educational environment in all our schools, and we are committed to this shared expectation.
The East Bridgewater School District is responsible for the safety and well being of over 2500 students, faculty, staff and visitors everyday. There are protocols and procedures in place to ensure that all potential threats will be handled with absolute care and concern for all children and all adults. There are members of our community who, understandably, have opinions about how situations should or should not be handled. While EBPS appreciates all contributions to the work that we do everyday, as a leader in our community, I ask that all parents focus on a more dynamic approach to safeguarding their children’s activities, especially outside of school.
Actively monitor your children’s cell phones, their pictures, their social media usage and/or websites they frequently visit. More importantly, what is in their closets, under their beds, or in their cars? Sadly, the answers to those questions don’t just keep your child safe, they help to keep our friends’ and neighbors’ children safe, as well. As a community, the conversation can not be about what happens between the hours of 7:30 and 3:00. They are your children, they live in your homes and neighborhoods and we must all remain committed to helping them make good decisions. East Bridgewater Public Schools will be vigilant in supporting those intentions, because we are all preparing them to navigate a “real world” that is rapidly approaching. As they grow, so too does the weight and consequences of their actions and their understanding of this fact is our responsibility.
As I sat in my office at 8:55 PM on Friday night, fully intending to send this message, instead I reflected: Although these unfortunate events are the impetus for this message, it will not be what defines this week. Maybe it could be the incredible performance of The Lion King KIDS, I attended at the Gordon Mitchell School? Or, the energy in the High School gymnasium, those last 18 seconds I was lucky enough to catch when our Vikings defeated the Green Wave 58-51? Could it have been the amazing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit at Holy Cross University our students, teachers and administrators attended this week? Some may suggest that it is the time our Big Vikings from the high school spent working on an art project with our Little Viking preschoolers at Central Elementary, on Friday.
Clearly, the answer is all of the above, including the events that caused the lockdown on Wednesday; which is the reason you are receiving this message on Sunday evening. Each is simply one moment in time that offers our community the opportunity to support our drama program, cheer for our athletic teams, embrace and share the things that make us different with other districts, and of course, stand together against those actions that test our shared values. Paramount to the conversation is how each of these activities supports the tireless work of our faculty and staff that yields the academic achievements of our students.
Perspective may be “everything” but sometimes the potential outcome leaves no room for subjectivity. I invite all reading this to share being proud of every success and every challenge, and grateful that we can all start a new week together…Proud to be East Bridgewater Vikings!
Warmly and Gratefully,