Milton Middle School principals learned a student posted a threatening message on social media this weekend, an email sent to parents Monday afternoon said.
The district took action to keep the community safe, superintendent Ann Bradshaw said in the email obtained by the Milton Independent, and contacted school resource officer Cpl. Scott Philbrook.
Citing privacy laws, Bradshaw wrote she could not provide any specific details about the matter, but she used the opportunity to educate parents on Milton’s evolving school safety policies.
“In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Florida and the threat closer to home in Fair Haven, I want to share information about the crisis plans we use in Milton,” she began in the email.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz allegedly killed 17 people during a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., police say. Two days later in Vermont, 18-year-old Jack Sawyer pleaded not guilty to charges including attempted murder in connection with the threat of a mass shooting at Fair Haven Union High School.
After sending her initial email Monday afternoon, Bradshaw said about six parents contacted her, causing her to send a second email to parents Tuesday afternoon.
Some of these parents, she said, thought her email insinuated there was a threat to the school. There was not.
“I appreciate the feedback, and I apologize for causing concern,” she wrote in her second email. “It was not my intention. In ordinary times, we would respond to these events internally. In days of heightened alert, and expecting rumors would start, I hoped to reassure families that the school was aware of the situations and had responded appropriately.”
She also clarified the events that prompted her initial message to parents.
On Monday, she said two students reported a student-to-student threat was posted on social media over the weekend. The threat did not mention the school, and the student who posted the message was “immediately isolated.”
At that time, Philbrook, middle school principals and the student’s family created an education and support plan for the student, Bradshaw wrote.
Also on Monday, a student initiated a discussion about the Florida shooting and if it should be legal to own a gun, Bradshaw wrote. Multiple students reported the conversation to the middle school principals, saying they felt uncomfortable.
Bradshaw said principals talked with the student in question and “determined that the conversation was unintentionally upsetting for some, but there was no intent to harm.”
The superintendent then also issued a correction to her statement issued the day before.
Bradshaw initially reported the district implemented a new safety protocol at the Milton Elementary and Middle School entrances last month: Once the school day begins, the doors to each foyer are locked, and school staff must grant visitors entry to the building.
However, in the next 24 hours, Bradshaw learned the system wasn’t in place at the elementary school yet. She said the system was installed Tuesday, and gave a few more details.
The new system will have a camera and two-way speaker.
“Office staff will have monitors on their desks,” Bradshaw wrote. “If they know the individual at the door, they can press the button to temporarily unlock the door. If the visitor is unknown, or is known but seems agitated, office staff will call an administrator or 911.”
In a follow up interview with the Independent, Bradshaw said part of the system was installed at the middle school over a week ago. The doors now lock, she said, and office staff will soon receive an entry buzzer.
In addition to routine student safety drills, monthly “safety team” meetings are held to review concerns along with Philbrook, who “leads tabletop exercises to review different scenarios and responses,” Bradshaw’s initial email stated.
These responses to a range of emergencies are documented in crisis guides, which are updated when more current information becomes available, Bradshaw wrote.
“We are very appreciative when students bring their concerns to our attention,” Bradshaw wrote. “‘If you see something, say something’ is at the core of preventing tragedy. Please encourage your children to continue to share their concerns.”
Due to the influx of concerned parents, Bradshaw said the district would hold an informational meeting in the high school library at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with Philbrook to update parents on school safety protocols.
She said Philbrook will explain the school’s safety drills to parents, similar to past workshops he’s orchestrated.
She said at least 10 parents must RSVP for the event to take place.