By Alan Sorensen
In light of the recent student slayings in Littleton, Colo., and Taber, Alberta, Havre Public Schools officials are re-emphasizing their zero tolerance policy toward violence.
That re-emphasis came in the form of a 10-day out-of-school suspension for a 14-year-old Havre Middle School girl Friday.
Police were called to the school shortly after 9 a.m. Friday on a complaint that the girl made threats toward other students in a note she passed to in school Thursday. She was removed from school and charged with intimidation and felony assault.
HMS Principal Vance Blatter called a school assembly Friday afternoon to explain the schools policies with students and to answer any of their questions.
We explained our procedures and policies, and more than anything, I wanted them to understand that with our district and our school, were going to deal with these things with zero tolerance, Blatter said.
He said the purpose of the assembly was to answer a lot of concerns hed heard from students.
I had several students come to me Friday morning and discuss their concerns with me, Blatter said. We want a safe environment and to keep an open dialog with kids.
Right now, the students emotions are right on the surface and I wanted to take some time and explain to our kids their responsibilities in providing a safe school environment, as well as the staffs.
Blatter said the suspension and arrest of the girl involved a note she reportedly passed to another student on Thursday. In that note, the girl allegedly threatened another girl and some students.
While Blatter said hes pretty sure the note was a prank, he insisted that the school must take all correspondence seriously.
Any type of correspondence that in any way jeopardizes the safety of a staff or student, were not taking it lightly, he said. Obviously, this is an issue that concerns us as well as all other districts in Montana.
Were going to actively address each and every instance and make a stand of zero tolerance.
Blatter said other issues are involved with the girls suspension.
The more you bring the issue to the surface, Blatter said, the more it seems to feed these children in these pranks they want to do.
Superintendent Kirk Miller agreed with Blatter and commended school personnel for their quick response to the note.
I would reaffirm that Havre Public Schools has very good policy for emergency procedures and what to do in a crisis situations, Superintendent Kirk Miller said this morning. Communication with the staff and students are vital links in helping these policies to work.
He also reiterated the districts policy of zero tolerance.
The recent tragedies in Littleton and Taber certainly place thoughts of incidents such as this on the minds of everyone in the community, Miller said. Our students and parents alike must work together in taking incidents such as the one at our middle school seriously and with zero tolerance. We will continue with the communication channels have become a tradition for the Havre Public Schools system.