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School Officials Comment on Student’s ‘Assassination List’

The list included eight students and a staff member.

Sherwood Middle School. Photo credit: Patch file photo.
Sherwood Middle School. Photo credit: Patch file photo.

Shrewsbury Public Schools officials said on Friday that they discovered a sixth-grade Sherwood Middle School student had an “assassination list,” but "determined that there was not a threat to anyone's safety."

Dr. Joseph Sawyer, superintendent of Schools, said, “While this situation turned out to be nothing more than an immature action by a sixth grader, the Sherwood Middle School administration responded to the initial report of a concern swiftly and seriously in order to ensure the safety of the school’s students and staff, and then communicated personally with those involved to provide information and reassurance.  I was pleased, but not surprised, that parents contacted expressed their appreciation and confidence in the school leadership’s response,” said Sawyer.

On Friday afternoon, Dr. Jane Lizotte, principal of Sherwood Middle School, sent an email to parents describing the situation and the school’s response.

Here is the email sent to families from Lizotte:

Dear Sherwood Families,

I am communicating with you to make you aware of a situation here at Sherwood where a student made a poor choice that required administrative attention, as it could have represented a threat to others. I am pleased to tell you that the incident was thoroughly investigated and determined that there was not a threat to anyone's safety. The specifics are as follows:

• Yesterday morning, the Sherwood administration became aware of a document created by a 6th grade student that contained a list of 8 students and 1 staff member that was labeled "Assassination List." The document had been shared electronically with another student, who then showed it to his parent, who in turn contacted the school. 

• Mrs. Heather Gablaski, 6th grade assistant principal, and I immediately took steps to address the situation. After speaking with the child who created the document and his parents, speaking with other students, and consulting with school counseling and psychology staff as well as a school resource police officer, we determined that there was not a threat to anyone's safety. The student who created the list demonstrated very poor judgment, and the school is taking appropriate steps to address this issue seriously and with the cooperation of the student's family, who is also understandably upset.  Student confidentiality precludes me from sharing specifics.

• Because of our obligation to ensure the safety of our students and staff, we used an abundance of caution in our approach to this matter. Yesterday, after our thorough investigation indicated that there was no threat, we contacted the families of each student whose name was on the list, as well as the families of five other students whose names were on another, untitled list that was in the document, to make them aware of the situation. We also communicated with staff members as needed. The families expressed appreciation for being informed, and they were grateful for the reassurance that the issue had been thoroughly investigated and resolved.  The families were also informed that their students would be provided with support if needed.

While I typically would not send a whole-school communication to address an issue that has already been communicated directly to those affected, I have been made aware that a parent contacted the media about this situation. I felt that it was important to communicate directly with you, our parent community, so that you receive the information directly from me rather than being unnecessarily alarmed by a media report. I am confident that our school remains a very safe place, and we will continue to take any potentially problematic situations brought to our attention seriously and to respond using our best professional judgment. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at jlizotte@shrewsbury.k12.ma.us or 508-841-8670.

 

Respectfully,

 Jane

 

Jane O. Lizotte, Ed.D.

Principal

Sherwood Middle School

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