SKOKIE SCHOOL DISTRICT 73.5

 

October 24, 2014
Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s),
 
Thank you for your many emails and calls of support. We are very grateful to partner with you in our efforts to ensure a safe learning environment for our students and staff. We would also like to thank you for your patience and understanding while we worked in coordination with the Skokie Police Department to keep details of their case confidential during the ongoing investigation.  Finally, we are appreciative of the calls and emails we have received from schools in and around the Chicagoland area, praising our vigilance and the collaborative work of our community. 
 
Our students have enjoyed a positive and productive return to school. During an extended session with their Advisory teacher and classmates, students engaged in discussions and activities around the purpose of social media and the importance of digital citizenship. Students also explored the differences between upstanders and bystanders, and how these roles may be helpful or harmful. Our Advisory teachers reviewed support personnel and how to seek help from this team. Most importantly, students’ feelings and questions were addressed in a safe and supportive learning environment. Following this hour-long session, students moved through shortened periods of their daily schedule. We were eager to welcome our students back to McCracken, and they seemed to very much enjoy reconnecting with their friends and teachers in our school setting. We were also pleased to see so many of our students dressed in orange and blue to symbolize a school community united against bullying and promoting peace!
 
At this time, we are working with the Board of Education and the Skokie Police Department to determine consequences for the sixth grade student who has been identified as posting threats to and about other students. School administration directly contacted the parents of all students who were specifically threatened online by this sixth grader. Please be assured that the student is not attending school. As always, disciplinary action regarding minor children is confidential and issued in accordance with Board Policy. Our top priority is student and staff safety, and all decisions will reflect that priority.
Please know that student support personnel will continue to be available to meet with any students who wish to talk further about recent events. If you believe your child would benefit from meeting with a member of our student support team, please contact Ms. Amato, our school counselor, or Ms. Belgrad, our school social worker, at 847.673.1220. You may also wish to review the attached resources, originally distributed earlier this week, which detail internet safety guidelines and questions for families, suggestions for creating a positive digital culture in your home, and valuable tips for parents speaking with their children about safety and feelings of fear.
 
Please review attachments here: (Attachment 1) (Attachment 2)
 
 
Thank you, again, for your ongoing support and cooperation.
 
 
Sincerely,
Allison Stein
Principal

October 23, 2014

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s),

Thank you for your ongoing cooperation, support, and patience while we worked to coordinate efforts with multiple agencies to ensure a safe return to school. We are so appreciative of your partnership toward a successful resolution.

This letter is to inform you that school will be in session at McCracken Middle School on Friday, October 24, 2014. The decision to welcome students back to school was made in coordination with the Skokie Police Department. As of 8:15 p.m., the Skokie Police Department, working in coordination with school administration, identified the source of the threat as a juvenile who attended McCracken Middle School. Involved students will not be in attendance at school tomorrow. We would like to thank the Skokie Police Department for their communication, diligence, and attention to this important safety matter. Student and staff safety is our first priority, and we are relieved that this case has been resolved. 

We are implementing measures that allow us to focus on the needs of our students, as well as to protect the privacy of our students and staff in the case of a continued media presence during the school day tomorrow. 

•Skokie Police Officers will be onsite during student arrival and dismissal.

•All before and after school activities at McCracken Middle School are cancelled for Friday. The cafeteria and Learning Center will also be closed before school, so that district and school personnel have an opportunity to prepare for student entry.

•When students arrive on campus, we will welcome them into the building without waiting for the school bell to ring. This will provide our students with time to reconnect and ready themselves for classes.

•Students will begin their day in an extended Advisory session with their Advisory teacher and classmates. During this session, they will participate in a series of lessons focused on social media, digital citizenship, activism (upstanders versus bystanders), and how to access support here at school. Following this hour-long session, students will move through shortened periods of their daily schedule.

•A team of student support personnel will be available throughout the day to meet with any students who wish to talk further about recent events. Our Advisory teachers will share information about this opportunity with all students during their morning session.

•So that we may focus on our students, we will maintain “soft lockdown” status during our school day. Specifically, all exterior doors will remain closed and locked, and all outdoor activities (such as recess and Physical Education) will be moved indoors. Visitors will not be permitted to enter the building, unless they have a previously scheduled meeting with a teacher or administrator.

•We recommend that all parent(s) and guardian(s) speak with their children to identify an after school plan. We strongly encourage all students to go directly home and not speak with members of the media. 

In celebration of Unity Day, students are encouraged to wear orange and/or blue tomorrow. This day serves to unite our school community against bullying, and promote a safe and supportive school environment. We are looking forward to seeing our students tomorrow, and welcoming them back to McCracken!

Sincerely,

Kate Donegan, Allison Stein, Courtney Goodman, Nancy Ariola, and members of the Board of Education

 

 October 23, 2014

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s),


As of noon today, we do not have any new information to share about the Skokie Police Department’s investigation of the Instagram posts. Please continue to visit the Village of Skokie website (www.skokie.org) for any updates. This letter is to share some of our plans for student re-entry, and to inform you of needed calendar changes for upcoming student events.


The Student Council dance scheduled for Friday, October 24th will be rescheduled for an alternate date. Staff sponsors are working with our dedicated PTA parents to identify a new date for this special student activity. The Buzz Buck Bonanza assembly program scheduled for students on Friday, October 24th has been rescheduled for the morning of Friday, October 31st. On that date, we will host a combined Honors Assembly and Buzz Buck Bonanza to celebrate our students’ success during our first quarter.  
When it is determined that students may return to McCracken, we will share any specific re-entry plans that may be implemented (based on the status of the Skokie Police Department’s investigation). On this first day of student attendance, our students will begin their day in an extended Advisory session with their Advisory teacher and classmates. During this session, they will participate in a series of lessons focused on social media, digital citizenship, activism (upstanders versus bystanders), and how to access support here at school. In addition, a team of student support personnel will be available throughout the day to meet with any students who wish to talk further about recent events.
While we were scheduled to celebrate Unity Day on October 22nd, in an effort to unite against bullying and promote a safe and supportive school environment, we are rescheduling this day for the date of our students’ return. One of our eighth grade students suggested that we also wear blue on this date to symbolize peace. We, therefore, encourage all students to wear orange and/or blue when they return to school. We are looking forward to seeing our students, and welcoming them back to McCracken!
Please note that all student lockers (sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students’ hallway and Physical Education lockers) have been checked by district personnel to ensure they only hold items appropriate for school. We assure you that no inappropriate items were found. We are proud that our students continue to demonstrate respectful, responsible, and ready behavior in the items they choose to bring to school.  
Again, we very much appreciate the phone calls and emails from both parents and students, who continue to share important information with us about the Instagram posts. If you or your child have information to share, please contact a building administrator via phone or email, the Skokie Police Department at 847.982.5900, or the 24-hour CRIME TIP HOTLINE at 847.933.8477. 


Student and staff safety is our first priority. We continue to be in close communication with the Skokie Police Department, and they are working diligently to investigate this case. Thank you for your support and patience as we coordinate with multiple agencies to ensure a safe return to school. 


Sincerely,


Allison Stein

Principal

 10/22/2014

We continue to cooperate with the Skokie Police Department in their investigation of comments posted on the Instagram accounts of some of our McCracken Middle School students. While we are not aware of any new posts that are threatening or inappropriate in nature, the current status of the investigation is such that we arecanceling classes at McCracken Middle School for tomorrow, Thursday, October 23, 2014. The Skokie Police Department will continue their investigation and supports the District's decision to cancel classes tomorrow. District and school administrators are working in coordination with the Skokie Police Department, the Village of Skokie, and Board of Education to prepare for increased security measures at McCracken, so that we may welcome students back to school as soon as possible. We are also coordinating efforts to finalize re-entry plans, as well as arrangements for reviewing internet safety and digital citizenship with students.

Middleton and Meyer students should report to school tomorrow.

 

If you or your child have information to share regarding any inappropriate Instagram posts, please contact a McCracken building administrator or the Skokie Police Department at their non-emergency number, 847.982.5900, or the 24 hour automated CRIME TIP HOTLINE, 847.933.8477. 

 

Student and staff safety continues to be our top priority. Thank you for your support and cooperation.

10/22/2014 

 

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s),

We are continuing to partner with the Skokie Police Department as they investigate a series of inappropriate and threatening Instagram posts that were shared with some of our students. The Skokie Police Department is working with federal authorities, and they have shared information about their investigation at www.skokie.org.

Our intent was to send families a comprehensive update earlier today, including the status of the investigation, our re-entry plan for tomorrow, our arrangements for reviewing internet safety and digital citizenship with students, as well as resources to support you and your child at home. Unfortunately, we are unable to finalize our plans for tomorrow due to the present status of the investigation. All families will receive notification from the Superintendent's office later this evening about our plans for student attendance tomorrow.

We appreciate the phone calls and emails from both parents and students who have shared information, including screen shots from Instagram, with us. We have shared this communication with the Skokie Police Department, and these reports are now part of their ongoing investigation. While our school closing has received media coverage, it is important to remember that the Skokie Police Department is the authoritative source for this investigation. We will continue to share their press releases with you, as they are posted, so that you have accurate information.

Please review the attached resources, which detail internet safety guidelines and questions for families, as well as suggestions for creating a positive digital culture in your home. Also attached is an article from the National Association of School Psychologists, which includes valuable tips for parents speaking with their children about safety and feelings of fear.

Student and staff safety is our first priority. We will continue to fully cooperate with the Skokie Police Department in their ongoing efforts, and we thank you for partnering with us to ensure a safe learning environment.

Sincerely,

Allison Stein

Principal

 

Attachments: NASP - Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

Social Media - Internet Safety: Tips for Parents and Families

MIDDLETON'S AMERICAN FLAG MURAL - Read all about the collaborative artwork created by our students in grades 1-5. 

Students each created small monochromatic self-portraits and worked together to collage newspaper stories for the white stripes. The news stories in our flag represent all of the events and people in our country.

ELIZABETH MEYER PRESCHOOL PROGRAM RECEIVES TOP HONORS - The program recently was recognized with a top honor by the state, the new ExceleRate Illinois Gold Circle of Quality.

“We’re knowledgeable,” Gordon said. “I feel like we really do know what we’re doing in terms of what’s best for young children to help them learn, grow, be nurtured and love school.”

MCCRACKEN'S A.C.T. STILL MAKING A DIFFERENCE  Read about the latest fundraising efforts of this amazing group.