Here is a letter sent Wednesday, Feb. 6, to parents by Wilde Lake Principal James LeMon.
The news of a student arrest yesterday has deeply impacted our Wilde Lake High School community, specifically our wonderful families and school staff. In addition to the letter that was distributed yesterday via electronic mail, you may have also read accounts of the arrest on the internet or viewed televised reports.
The purpose of this communication is to provide clarification on the process that Wilde Lake High School and the Howard County Public School System followed with regards to the incident that occurred at Wilde Lake High School on, Monday, February 4, 2013, to outline the steps and resources that were put in place to support our school community today at school, and to provide tips for parents when talking with your students about the information that has been shared at school or through the press.
During the evening hours on Monday, February 4th, I was notified by police of an alleged rape that took place at WLHS during that school day. I immediately collaborated with police and central office staff to support the investigation and ensure that accurate and confirmed information was available to members of the WLHS community. The student was arrested and charged with second degree rape and is currently detained.
Due to the fact that the accusations against the student had inherent criminal, legal, and personnel ramifications, I was directed by HCPSS’s Central Office to inform the community about the situation once we received the Police Department news release. By law, such allegations must remain confidential until a decision is made regarding if and when charges are officially filed. We did immediately meet with our staff after school and shared the press release information; and we also sent home the electronic alert to inform our community.
In an effort to proactively address general concerns and provide individual support, as necessary, to students, staff, and family, many coordinated efforts were put in place throughout the day today. Teachers were provided an appropriate statement to share with their students this morning. Embedded throughout the statement were discussion points aimed at facilitating conversations that emphasized:
- Feelings students may be experiencing as they reacted to the news
- Different people that students can talk to at home and at school about those feelings
- Awareness of the ways that children, parents, and school can maintain safety everyday
In addition to the statement and discussions facilitated by classroom teachers, psychologists and counselors with specialized training from other Howard County schools joined our efforts at WLHS to provide opportunities, when appropriate, for individual students to further discuss their concerns and questions with a HCPSS staff member.
I also understand that many parents will want to talk to their children about their feelings and reactions to this news. When children hear news like this, they can have many different feelings. They can feel upset, angry, sad, scared, confused, or even guilty, and all of these feelings are normal. Based on this, I have attached helpful hints and strategies aimed at assisting you if you decide to talk further with your child(ren) at home. Tips Talking to Children After Traumatic Events <https://www.hcpssnews.com/upload/Wilde%20Lake%20HS/Tips_Talking_to_Children_After_Disaster.pdf>
I communicated with our PTSA President, Sharon Glennen, yesterday prior to the statement being released, and followed up with her again today. We discussed the supportive measures that were put in place, and I would like to thank Mrs. Glennen and the PTSA Board for their support.
Although this experience has been difficult for all involved, it is important for me to communicate the genuine pride and admiration I hold for the amazingly dedicated staff and the wonderful student body at Wilde Lake High School. Our teachers have responded to this trying situation in a professional, caring, and student friendly manner. Our students have responded with curiosity, but also with maturity. As I walked throughout the school today, it was clear that students were not only engaged in productive discussions with teachers regarding the incident, but they also displayed enthusiasm, interest, and a strong work ethic during their academic day.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns; I would be happy to talk with you.
Wilde Lake High School