Letter from Dr. Shultz

Threats and Consequences
Posted on 11/21/2022
Update from the Superintendent, Dr. Carl ShultzNovember 20, 2022

Dear Bedford Parents, Staff and Community

As we approach the one-year mark of the tragedy at Oxford High School, I want to acknowledge the role that these types of events have played in all of our lives, especially those of our children. Now, more than ever, it is important that we maintain a solid partnership in our message to students about threats of any kind, especially those that concern violence in our schools. In recent weeks, many schools in the Southeastern Michigan area have experienced threats primarily through social media or other means of electronic communication. When schools receive threats, regardless of the credibility, it follows a typical pattern of spreading quickly through our student body and community, creating confusion, fear, and ultimately panic, thus creating a disruption of the learning process. In a time when there are more distractions than ever, we must protect our students’ mental health and the time that we have dedicated for learning.

Bedford Public Schools (BPS) has developed strong practices and protocols, taking every threat seriously. We work hand in hand with both the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office who have made it explicitly clear that there is no tolerance for threats of violence in any school setting. If a student makes a threat, regardless of if they state it was a joke, prank, or any other intention, the district will strictly enforce the Student Code of Conduct to the fullest extent possible, which may include permanent expulsion from the school district. Additionally, we work closely with our district’s dedicated Monroe County Sheriff Deputy School Resource (SRO) Officers to ensure that every threat is investigated and referred to the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office for charges up to and including terrorism which is a 20 year/$20,000 felony (MCL 750.543m). In his recent press release (shared at the end of this letter) regarding school related threats and the individuals who make them, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Roehrig wrote that “the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will prosecute offenders and bring the full weight of the criminal justice system to bear in holding them accountable.”

Additionally, if a student who makes a threat is a minor, parents may also be found liable and charged. BPS and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will take all action necessary to protect our students and staff and that includes full prosecution for this criminal behavior. It is extremely important that as parents, you speak to your children about the serious life-long consequences that happen to an individual when they make a threat against a school or individual. Parents and guardians should also maintain a strong awareness regarding the types of social media accounts and postings that your children communicate with. One of the first statements school administrators often hear is “my son/daughter doesn’t even have an account on that platform”. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and the parent(s) simply have not kept up with the changing platforms that our students utilize to communicate.

Beyond working diligently to provide a safe environment, our caring BPS staff is ready to support students who may be experiencing stress, anxiety, feelings of despair, or any other challenge that may cause distress. Students should talk to parents, any staff member, or trusted adult, including our district’s SROs, at any time they hear or see something that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Additionally, OK2SAY is available to everyone and is an anonymous reporting system available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

BPS has always relied on the strength of our community to keep our schools outstanding places to learn and work. I’m confident that together, we can continue to support our students and staff, in maintaining a safe environment where high quality learning opportunities can take place free of disruption.

Thank you again for your cooperation and support.

Dr. Carl Shultz
Superintendent, Bedford Public Schools

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney released the following in a Press Release on November 18, 2022:

Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Michael G. Roehrig announces a response to the latest round of threats of school violence. These new offenses may be related to the upcoming one-year anniversary of the murder of four teens at Oxford High School in November, 2021. In the Oxford case, a 16-year-old recently was convicted as an adult of 24 crimes, including first-degree murder and terrorism causing death. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Sadly, Oxford is just one example of the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. There were 42 school attacks in 2021, and dozens more this year. The number of children, educators, and others who have been killed or wounded is in the hundreds. Even beyond the dead and wounded, since the infamous attack at Columbine High School in April of 1999, more than 320,000 students have experienced gun violence at 340 schools across the nation. The loss of life – along with the debilitating grief of those left behind, the shock, the fear – should be more than enough to force an end to this unimaginable threat to public safety. Yet, every week we are compelled to endure another chapter in this macabre story.

And then there are the copy-cat threats issued by people who threaten to murder and maim, frighten, and disrupt. Even in the face of tragedy, these people pursue evil rather than good. In the weeks following the Oxford shooting, some 80 Michigan schools were forced to close amid threats of violence. In a selfish, sadistic way, maybe the culprits find the threats funny, or think it's a way to make themselves feel important. Maybe they simply see it as a way to get out of school for a day or two. But making threats of violence is a crime. The crime of intentionally threatening to commit an act of violence with a dangerous weapon against a school (students, staff or school property) is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison.

Members of the law enforcement community take these threats seriously and will work together to find and apprehend these people. As the chief law enforcement officer of Monroe County, Prosecutor Michael Roehrig reminds everyone that “the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will prosecute offenders and bring the full weight of the criminal justice system to bear in holding them accountable.” The advice given to anyone (teenager or otherwise) who might consider making a threat against students, staff or school property is simple – “don’t do it.” Roehrig, added, “Think before you act. Think of the impact of your actions. Everyone wants to be unique. If you want to be unique, if you want to be known...do something good.”
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