Message from the Superintendent: Recent Acts of Violence in School Communities
March 28th, 2023
The following message was issued by HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano on March 28, 2023:
Yesterday, three students and three staff members were fatally shot at a school in Nashville, Tennessee. The shooter, who was a former student at the school, is also deceased. Last week, a student in the Denver, Colorado area shot two staff members, wounding both of them – one critically. The shooter was later found deceased. Locally, we continue to see reports of violence in the Baltimore-Washington area on and around school campuses.
I know these acts create anxiety and fear for students, staff and family members so I want to reiterate again that HCPSS is committed to creating a safe and secure environment in each of our school communities. In cooperation and coordination with the Howard County Police Department, Security Assistants in our school buildings, and numerous efforts to maintain physical security at schools, we are regularly evaluating our building operations and security actions to ensure continuous improvements to student and staff safety.
These incidents magnify the importance of physical safety in school communities, but also put a spotlight on the current mental health crisis we are experiencing across our nation. Too many of our young people are struggling – many silently – and not receiving the supports they need. I want to ask every person in our community to look out for one another. Assist those who need help or direct them to the professionals who can provide the help they need. Continue to be aware of those around you who may be struggling and please don’t ignore signs of suffering.
Ensuring safe and healthy schools and communities requires every one of us to do our part and take action to support our family members, friends and neighbors. The adage “if you see something, say something” remains true and I encourage all members of our community to report any concerns or seek guidance if you see something concerning.
I know having these discussions at home as in classrooms can be difficult. I have included several resources below for parents, guardians and educators to use as you speak to children about violence they may witness or see on the news. Please use these resources and encourage your child to speak to a trusted adult at school who can help them receive the support they need for anything that may be troubling them.
I join you in grieving the acts of senseless violence we have witnessed recently in school communities across our nation.
I continue to be grateful for the concern and compassion for others that I witness each and every day in our schools. Thank you for your collaboration and partnership in fostering safe and healthy school communities in Howard County.
Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) provides the following information for parents/guardians and educators to talk with children about violence:
- Talking to Children About Violence
- Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events: Tips for Families and Teachers
Additional reminders from NASP include:
- Reassure children that they are safe
- Make time to talk
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate
- Review safety procedures
- Observe children’s emotional state
- Limit television (and social media) viewing of these events
- Maintain a normal routine
The Mental Health and Wellness webpage provides tips, guidelines and sources of help including ways to talk to children about traumatic events.