May 18, 2019 — On Friday, the Weston Public School District advised parents of Middle School students that a second pupil was involved in an incident late last month where threatening statements were made. Both students are currently not in school. (Our previous article can be found here.)
The wording of Friday’s communication from Superintendent Dr. William McKersie led many to conclude that a second incident had occurred. It had not.
Weston Police Chief Edwin Henion confirmed that an investigation of the April 30 incident, still ongoing, revealed a second student may have participated in a conversation about “shooting up the school” in June. When other students reported the comments to a trusted adult, the school district brought in Weston Police.
In initial memoranda to parents on May 1st and 2nd, Superintendent McKersie and Middle School principal Daniel Doak emphasized that the pupil had no access to weapons, students and staff were not at risk, and no evidence was found of an alleged “hit list.” On Friday, Dr. McKersie wrote that the same is true of the second student.
Chief Henion said: “Whenever we get a referral of an incident, we take it seriously. We run it to ground to make sure there is no threat.”
In his memorandum, Dr. McKersie emphasized that “words and phrases matter,” particularly when they involve “threatening statements, even if they are meant as jokes.” He encouraged families to “reinforce this message with children” and encourage them to tell an adult when they hear or see something threatening.
Chief Henion agreed, and described the role of the School Resource Officer (SRO) as being one such “trusted adult.” An SRO was added to Weston Middle School last year in a significant increase to school security, including physical measures and all-school-hours campus coverage by patrol officers.
This afternoon, Principal Doak sent parents a document from the National Association of School Psychologists, "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers." The document is available online here.
Confusion about whether a second incident had occurred sparked speculation and something of an outcry today on social media. School and police officials are aware of the desire of parents to know more, but are in a difficult position. School security requires little being said publicly about school security. Legally, almost nothing can be said about incidents involving minors.