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Mars Area Elementary School

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Message to MASD Parents/Guardians (04.30.18)

April 30, 2018
Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am writing to you to address a difficult situation at our high school. The alleged use of hateful rhetoric by a student resulted in a physical altercation with another student. Due to confidentiality, we cannot and will not identify the students involved. Rest assured, however, that appropriate discipline will be pursued after the investigation is complete.

Let me first say that hate speech, of any kind, has no place at our schools. Neither is violence tolerated. When situations such as this come to light, they are taken seriously and investigated completely. We also involve local law enforcement in these investigations, as we have done in this situation.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind our school community that under School Policy #248,
“[t]he Board will not tolerate any behavior by ... students which constitutes harassment of another individual.”

Harassment, as it relates to this situation, is defined as:
“Verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct relating to an individual’s race, color, national origin/ethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion when such conduct ... creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment.”
At all times, the school community is asked to notify the administration of any allegation or rumor of improper conduct so that we can investigate and possibly de-escalate the situation before it gets worse.
I would also like to remind everyone that violence is not the answer to this kind of behavior. Under Policy #218, a student can be subject to suspension and/or expulsion for fighting or physical assault. The District is dedicated to maintaining a safe and orderly school environment for all students and will enforce this policy when violations occur.
Let me close by citing quotes from Mahatma Gandhi. In regards to hateful rhetoric, he has said, “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” And in regards to violence in the face of such hate, he has said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” I hope that all our students will take these words to heart as we attempt to learn and grow from this experience.
Very truly yours,

Dr. Wesley W. Shipley