Severna Park High, Anne Arundel superintendent to host community forum in response to bullying incident

Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell will host a community forum Monday in response to a bullying incident at Severna Park High School two weeks ago involving a student with special needs.

The forum will take place at Severna Park High School from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the school system announced in a news release Thursday. It will follow a format similar to that of Bedell’s Listening and Learning Tour where he will the audience with a brief speech, then break out into smaller groups with mediators to record community input.


“We want all of our kids to feel like they can go to school safe [so] they can learn. We want to send them back home better than they came to us at the end of each day. We want growth across the board for all of our students,” Bedell said Wednesday in his update to the Board of Education .


On Jan.10, a video surfaced of a Severna Park High student using racial epithets and slurs that are demeaning toward people with special needs, and later made a threat of violence. The video was taken at 1:30 p.m. and was spread throughout the student body and staff via AirDrop, a service that allows the near-instant transfer of files between Apple devices, said Severna Park High School Principal Lindsey Abruzzo in a letter sent home last Tuesday.

“As a school community, we must never condemn children. However, I do condemn the actions in this video in the strongest possible terms,” Abruzzo wrote. “They are unacceptable anywhere, especially in a school setting where part of our mission as a collective community is to cultivate students who are king, accepting and inclusive.”

The students who made the statements was identified by school officials but incident is still under investigation, a school system spokesperson said.

“We want our teachers to feel safe, not to feel like they cannot do their jobs because they don’t know what is going to happen at any given moment because of the incidents that are not only occurring here in our school district but they are occurring around the country,” Bedell said.

He pointed to other examples this month, such as a first-grader who shot his teacher in Newport News, Virginia. In another incident in Lansdowne, a teen was caught on tape assaulting another student with a weapon on the same day the bullying incident took place at Severna Park High School, catching national attention.

“It’s embarrassing and, quite frankly, it’s very concerning and scary,” Bedell said. “This [issue] is bigger than AACPS, and this a community problem and if we don’t have community help to resolve what’s going on, we’re wide open.”