Bullying, Racial Harrassment Cited in Report Following Closure of Amherst Regional High School Due to Social Media Threat
AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) – An investigation into the forced closure of Amherst Regional High School back on January 27th, following a threat on social media, has determined that the incident was a result of “separate behaviors during the series of events that are consistent with the definition of both bullying and racial harassment.”
That’s according to a report published to the school’s website by Superintendent Maria Geryk Friday.
At the time, Amherst Police said that school officials contacted them over concerns about a social media post alluding to a gun being brought onto school property. That post forced the superintendent to make a last minute decision to cancel school in order to begin a full investigation.
Police were able to quickly identify the student, and he and his parents cooperated with authorities throughout the investigation. No gun was found on school property at the time of that investigation, but one found at the student’s home was surrendered to authorities.
At a meeting following the incident, school principal Mark Jackson confirmed to parents that the source of the conflict involved racial slurs.
In Friday’s report, Geryk says, “disciplinary consequences and educational interventions have been assigned as appropriate and where warranted.” Details of those actions, however, will not be shared with the public.
The report goes on to say that an after-action review of the incident and subsequent investigation “was extremely valuable and highlighted some systems issues that must be attended to, including strengthening and clarifying communication protocols, clarifying expectations regarding behavioral intervention, strengthening investigation protocols, and updating the districts’ procedures for addressing bullying or bias-based harassment.”
It concludes: “This incident provides an important opportunity to address deeper issues of racial equity affecting both our schools and the broader community. As a community, we clearly value inclusiveness and acceptance for all, but our system must also provide the supports necessary to actualize those values. We prioritize an environment where our students, faculty/staff and families can work together to develop a safe, accepting and inclusive school climate. We will provide opportunities for growth through personal and professional development regarding inclusive practices and issues of equity. Working together, we will provide opportunities for students, staff, and community members to continue this dialogue to support growth and learning for all of us—students and adults alike.”