Rogers City should have spoken out about supposed threat

When it comes to school safety, it’s just about impossible to have too much communication.

At a recent school board meeting covered by News staff writer Julie Riddle, school officials and Presque Isle County Prosecutor Ken Radzibon explained to a group of parents that a supposed threat at Rogers City High School on Dec. 14 was actually nothing more than a fight between two students.

That’s why, the officials said, they did not close the school or issue any immediate statements to the school community about the supposed threat.

But many parents and others told the school board at that meeting that they should have done more in response to the supposed threat and kept parents more in the loop. The day after the school fight happened, many parents — still reeling from the Nov. 30 school massacre in Oxford — kept their children home from school, worried about the mysterious “threat” in Rogers City.

One school official told Riddle that, in retrospect, the district could have issued a statement when officials became aware that parents had concerns.

We agree.

Parents’ concerns are wholeheartedly understandable. We all want our children to be safe, and it’s hard to feel that way when we hear from our students that there’s talk of gun violence at the school (even if that talk was just talk), but we hear nothing from the school.

We understand school officials are in a tough spot. Their goal is to educate children, and that means they have to keep kids in school as long as it’s safely possible to do so.

In this case, Rogers City officials deemed it safe to keep kids in school.

But, at least when they saw the high absenteeism the following day and became aware of parents’ concerns, they should have issued a statement providing as much information as possible. In a vacuum of information, fear tends to fill the void — and Rogers City could have helped alleviate that by speaking out.

Still, it’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback, and we urge parents to have grace with school officials and for school officials to have grace with parents.

Maybe some changes are needed to the district’s communication policy. If so, those changes will work best if they’re discussed in good faith by both school leadership and parents and other community members.


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