Editorial: Post-arrest handling of weapons incident in Mayville is troubling  

 

I don’t want to hear about “spring break.”

I don’t want to hear about “it was only a half-day.”

I want details. Lots and lots of details about what happened on the bus, how quickly the school reacted, how the supposedly loaded gun, ammo, seven knives, and whiskey and marijuana everyone’s talking about were all handled once they were found in a locker near where kids go to school.

And most importantly, I want to know what’s going to change, like yesterday.

This is what I’m thinking if my kids are going to Mayville Community Schools, where a Mayville High School student was arrested March 24 and is currently detained for allegedly bringing all of this stuff to school a day after allegedly threatening to kill a middle-school student.

Addressing this should have been a priority.

The priority.

Instead, many parents read about it in the newspaper first and to be honest, I can’t imagine.

If I were a parent of a student in Mayville schools, I would be infuriated.

Instead, on March 26 – two days post arrest – a Facebook message was sent out after our paper hit the stands and the story could be read online at our website, TuscolaToday. com, as of 7 a.m. (when our online edition is available).

That 246-word message went out on the Mayville Community Schools Facebook page at 9:01 a.m. The message essentially included details about the arrest.

(For the record, on Friday [March 25] – and a day after the arrest – the Mayville Community Schools Facebook page wished everyone a happy spring break at about 8 a.m. and posted some spam about a Michigan State University football camp at 2:12 p.m.)

Personally, I emailed Barry Markwart, superintendent, Mayville Community Schools, at about 4 p.m. Friday (March 25). I told him specifically I was working on a story for the following day about the incident and that I wanted to talk with him to get the district’s perspective. I also indicated that he could contact me as late as midnight that day. I also called his mobile phone and left a message.

I didn’t get a response until about 3 p.m. Saturday, when Markwart informed me via email he was out of state “on spring break.”

Last I checked, “spring break” isn’t a national holiday (beyond Easter, obviously). Those involved in public schools are not legally bound to head for the hills come noon the day before Good Friday (when many schools dismiss for the week).

But that’s how it seems to have been treated and in the meantime, the number of comments from those in the community wondering why they had only just heard about it that day – again, two days post-arrest – continued to pile up.

Fortunately (or apparently unfortunately depending on your position), the legal system couldn’t wait until after “spring break” given the seriousness of the allegations and what has been referred to in court as a potential threat to public safety.

In fact, the arrested student has been in court several times since arrest (see story, A1).

It wasn’t until March 28 – four days post-arrest – the following was posted to the Mayville Community Schools Facebook page:

“As a parent and the Superintendent of Mayville Community Schools, I would like to invite any parent, student, staff or community member to call our office and make an appointment to discuss your concerns about the unfortunate incident we had at the high school on Thursday, March 24th. We need all input in this process to learn and make adjustments for further student safety. One fact we can clarify is the bus driver did not get information about the threat on the bus until Thursday morning and we commend the driver for not taking this verbal threat lightly and reporting it to administration. Our office will open back up on Monday, April 4th @7:30am. 989.845.6115 Thank you.”

Essentially, two questions arise:

  1. Is a Mayville High School student being charged with taking a loaded gun and seven knives not considered a serious enough situation to address immediately and head-on by school officials – at least until a bunch of people can squeeze in vacations?
  2. Is the Tuscola County Prosecutor’s office going overboard with its handling of the situation?

If you read our front page story today about Tuscola County Probate Court Judge Nancy Thane ordering the student to remain detained, again, based on the seriousness of the allegations, it would appear prosecutors are not being overzealous – prosecutors are not going overboard.

The answer to the first question, however, remains a bit less clear.

I’ll guess we’ll see when the administration gets their proverbial heads – and apparently the rest of their bodies – out of the sand.

 

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