Statement from Dr. Donna C. Hanlin, Superintendent of Wicomico County Schools:
This week, media coverage and social media have focused on parent concerns about school safety at Salisbury Middle School. I’d like to assure the community that school safety is an important topic for Wicomico County Public Schools at Salisbury Middle School and in every school, for every student, parent, staff member and community our schools serve. We want our students and staff members to come together in our schools each day for productive learning and positive experiences.
Wicomico County Public Schools is working with administrators and staff at Salisbury Middle School to address the recent concerns about student conduct, and we are taking these concerns very seriously. In a message sent Monday to all school families and staff members, Salisbury Middle Principal Kris Gosnell shared how the school is handling school safety concerns:
“Salisbury Middle School has experienced an increased number of student fights over the past two weeks. Please know that we take the safety and security of our students very seriously. These situations have been dealt with immediately and we continue to strive to improve the climate for all students. Many of our routines have been reviewed and adjusted to minimize disruptions. All students engaged in fighting have and will receive maximum penalties as this behavior will not be tolerated. We are prepared to continue to make adjustments as needed to ensure that our students are able to come to school and learn in a positive and productive environment.”
I can assure the community that we support Mrs. Gosnell in her efforts and fully support the discipline measures she is recommending for students engaged in fighting to send a clear message that such behavior will not be tolerated and the Code of Conduct will be enforced. Central Office staff and additional school resource officers have been on site to assist the administrative team at the school, and we are ready and willing to assist with other resources that may be required.
As I indicated, we take this responsibility for student safety very seriously. However, it is very important to also emphasize that these issues cannot be solved by the school system alone. In many cases the issues that students bring to school are community issues. Parents and school administrators and staff must work together to find productive solutions, especially when issues originate in the community or on social media.
Mrs. Gosnell is planning a parent meeting for the school community to provide information about these issues, and to work together to find productive solutions. In the meanwhile, we also ask parents to please talk regularly with your student or students about what they see, read and hear in school, in the community, online, and in other communications. If parents learn of something concerning, they should contact the school office to make administration aware, so that any potential situations can be handled proactively.
Parents can also join schools in making sure students know the important role they can play in confidentially reporting safety concerns to any adult who works at the school. And we need parents to reinforce appropriate behavior in school and support our schools when discipline is required.
If a parent or student wishes to report a concern without calling the school directly, there are other ways:
The new Maryland Safe Schools hotline 833-MD-B-SAFE (1-833-632-7233) is open 24/7 for people to call anonymously with school safety concerns. Wicomico County Public Schools investigates every tip received through the hotline.
The home page of the Wicomico County Public Schools website includes a purple button for reporting bullying, harassment, cyberbullying or intimidation. Direct link to the reporting form: https://dev.wcboe.org/bullyreport/. Every report that is submitted is investigated.
We want our students, families and staff to have good and productive experiences in our schools every day. We are committed to having safe schools, and we believe that working as a team, with every student, parent, staff member, and law enforcement member taking an active role, we can make that happen.