Dozens of Michigan schools close early because of rumors of violence

Dozens of Michigan schools started the holiday break two days early because of distractions caused by rumored threats of violence and issues with end-of-the-world prophecies. Following are statements from officials in the two counties explaining why.

Here’s the statement from Superintendent Matt Wandrie of Lapeer Community Schools (which has three high schools, two middle schools and seven elementary schools) from the district’s website:

Good evening.

I apologize for the timing of this message, but I have important information to share with you.

 

Given the recent events in Connecticut, there have been numerous rumors circulating in our district, and in neighboring districts, about potential threats of violence against students. Additionally, rumors connected to the Mayan calendar predicted end of the world on Friday have also surfaced. These rumors of violence have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be false. There have been no credible threats made against any of our students. However, these rumors have been a serious distraction for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Therefore, given the significant disruption to the teaching and learning process, I have decided, along with my fellow superintendents of Lapeer County, to cancel school for both Thursday, December 20th, and Friday, December 21st.  This includes all after school extracurricular events, programs and athletic contests and practices.  Although we in the county are reluctant to cancel school because the rumors are unsubstantiated, we feel it is the most appropriate decision given the gravity of recent events and our present circumstances.

 

On behalf of the Board of Education, teachers, administrators, and support personnel, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We look forward to working with your children when school resumes on Monday, January 7th. Have a wonderful and enjoyable break!!

 

Matt Wandrie
Superintendent
Lapeer Community Schools

 

And here is the statement from Genessee County Public Schools, from its website:

A message on behalf of the 21 Genesee County School District Superintendents and Genesee Intermediate School District.

 

It is clear that last Friday changed all of us. As educators, we acknowledge, and we believe our communities would agree, that schools are at the center of concern right now. As school district Superintendents we have been in constant communication with one another and there are too many unique factors that have influenced our unanimous decision to cancel school and all school activities for Thursday, December 20 and Friday, December 21.

 

Our communities are anxious, parents are concerned about the safety of their children, there are rumors that have multiplied as a result of social media, and there are threats within local districts that bring pause as to whether conducting classes would be appropriate. We have discussed information from local law enforcement, the realities of being able to investigate every threat, information related to district sensitivities, and our concerns about whether a normal instructional day could be achieved.

 

Our conclusion is that canceling school is the appropriate thing to do.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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