Wicomico County School Board, County Council discuss violence in schools

SALISBURY, Md. – Wicomico County Council members had plenty of questions on Tuesday for the Wicomico County School Board.

The school board assured the council today that they’re doing everything they can to make sure all students are safe in school.  It was a necessary meeting, where the school board got the chance to talk about one particular change they made following violent incidents: a new task force.

“What I did today with the counsel is review with them where we are with current initiatives, focused a lot on what we’re doing with an a very limited task force,” Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin said.

That task force is the result of several violent episodes at various public schools throughout Wicomico County. On Tuesday, school board members sat directly across from the county council and explained everything they’re doing to address that violence.

“I took the opportunity with the council and with the public that may be viewing to go through and explain to them the Maryland guidelines for student discipline, which is the framework that we follow,” Dr. Hanlin said.

Dr. Hanlin says her staff has faced challenges while responding to these disciplinary measures, mainly one challenge in particular.

“One of the first things that comes to mind is the distraction that’s created on social media,” Dr. Hanlin said.

Dr. Hanlin says the immediate need for information has been a distraction for her staff, who, she says, has to spend time dispelling rumors after incidents happen at the schools.

“The community wants details when they hear that there are incidents in our schools and we have very strict laws that We have to follow in terms of privacy rights for both students and staff,” she said.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, even after hearing about the new task force, some council members were concerned that the school board wasn’t doing enough, even asking why students weren’t facing expulsion after some violent days.  Dr. Hanlin, on the other hand, says the board is doing enough.

“I believe we are, as we’ve discussed in here we’ve had some very serious situations and there are expulsions under consideration,” she said.

Dr. Hanlin also says that parents can be sure that even if expulsion proceedings take time, violent student offenders will not be placed back into the school with other students.

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