We are only a few days away from the start of our Winter Break and a time to enjoy family, friends, and the holiday season. I look forward to sharing a holiday message with everyone at the end of the week but first I felt it would be a good idea to provide an update on events that occurred last week.
In the days after the horrific tragedy at Oxford High School on November 30, schools across Metro Detroit found themselves dealing with dozens of cases of people making threatening or false comments on social media, via text messages, or other platforms. Instead of moving to a point of healing, students, parents, and staff had emotions raised to an even higher level of anxiety by the comments of those whose only goal was to use their words to create chaos and unrest. Through the hard work of law enforcement officials in the area, dozens of people now face criminal prosecution for their actions to cause further harm. Unfortunately, we too had to spend many hours last week addressing these types of comments directed at our students and the school community.
We are very fortunate to have a great partnership with Chief Haddad and the Dearborn Police Department. They have supported us at all levels and at any time day or night. I spoke with the Chief numerous times last week as he and his team conducted investigations regarding the legitimacy of the threatening comments. We take all threatening comments very seriously in cooperation with law enforcement to determine credibility.
It is very disappointing to learn that thirteen different students were identified, located, and now face further disciplinary and legal action due to their involvement with these comments. The level of involvement by several of these students was so severe police felt they could bring the cases to the Wayne County Prosecutor for further legal action. The school district does not have the authority to determine if further legal action is possible and therefore we support the police in their decision to bring these cases to the prosecutor.
Those who sought to disrupt our community with false messages, rumors, and insightful words will not only face legal action from the justice system but, if found to be students of the Dearborn Public Schools, will face the full force of our disciplinary actions up to and including an expulsion hearing before the Board of Education. I understand that many people would like to know all the details about these individuals. Please understand that a school district cannot provide any confidential student information that is protected by state or federal law. In order to allow for the proper disciplinary action to occur all individuals are afforded due process.
Speaking in more general terms, A student found to be making threatening comments would face several disciplinary actions. The first step would be to remove the student from the school or not allow the student to attend. The student would be placed on a ten day suspension pending a hearing with our Student Services office. The outcome of that hearing may result in further disciplinary action, additional days of suspension, and/or a formal hearing in front of the Board of Education to determine if the student will be permanently expelled from the district.
Our entire staff has done an incredible job to ensure our students are safe while at school. I also want to thank all of our parents who have been very supportive. Keeping our schools and keeping our community safe is a task we must continue to do together. Please take time to talk with your children and remind them of the dangers and serious consequences of making threats, false reports, or engaging in any acts that insight fear or disrupt the operation of school. Also, please remember to not repost any threatening or disruptive comments as that prolongs and complicates the investigation. If you or your children see or hear any type of comments that make you uneasy or uncomfortable, please share them directly with a building principal, district personnel, or law enforcement.
For all of us as a community to find our “normal” after almost 2 years of COVID and now the tragic events of Oxford will take time, dedication, and the efforts of all of us. Please join me, our dedicated staff of professionals, students, parents, and others as we work to calm our community and provide our students with the very best, and safe, learning environment.
Glenn Maleyko, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools