No School for MDI High School tomorrow, November 2
BAR HARBOR—Mount Desert Island High School went into a lockdown after a unspecified threat on November 1. The school went into a lockdown at around 12:30 p.m..
A press release from Bar Harbor’s Communications Coordinator, Maya Caines, sent at 7:41 p.m. stated, “A serious and credible threat was received by administration at Mount Desert Island High School and caused the school to enter a lockdown.”
A message from School Superintendent Mike Zboray sent at 8:11 p.m. read,
“I want to share that today a threat was received at the high school. The nature of the threat necessitated an immediate lockdown. The threat was substantial enough for law enforcement to thoroughly sweep the building. To ensure the safety of all, students and staff were checked before leaving school for unification. This process takes time by design. I can not thank local and state law enforcement enough for the professionalism and thorough nature of their work. Please know that the Bar Harbor police department apprehended the person who made the threat.”
Zboray added that school would be cancelled for MDI High School on Wednesday, November 2 and wrote,
“This is to allow for all of us to take a collective breath and provide space for repair and a chance to reset after such a traumatic event. Students will be allowed in the building from 12- 2pm to gather possessions left behind and to pick up their cars. We will have counselors available for those who might need them during that time. All planned after-school activities will take place as scheduled tomorrow.
“Thursday, November 3rd will be a regular school day. We will have counselors available for students and staff. Friday, November 4th will be an early release day and the end of the Quarter. The new Quarter will begin Monday, November 7th.”
At 1:02 Tuesday, an email from the superintendent, but sent from Principal Matt Haney’s email account read,
“Dear MDIHS parents,
“The MDI High School received a specific threat to the high school. Based on that information the school immediately went into lock and called the police. Once the building is clear, we will communicate with families. Police are on campus.
Mike Zboray – Superintendent”
According to the town’s press release, the Bar Harbor Police Department, Maine State Police, Acadia National Park, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Ellsworth Police Department, and Bar Harbor Fire Department worked jointly. The release read,
“At this time, a credible suspect has been identified and the Bar Harbor Police Department is working with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and the State of Maine Department of Corrections Office of Juvenile Services.”
The day’s events worried parents, guardians and family of staff and students with multiple social media posts explaining fears and looking for information. Many posts stated currently unsubstantiated rumors that the threat was to a staff member and their family.
At 3:09 p.m., a text came to MDIHS parents stating,
“A note went out concerning reunification at MDES. All students are safe. Once all high school students are at MDES. We will begin reunification.” There was no email as well to confirm, leading to confusion for some parents.
At 3:19, an email came to MDIHS parents coming from Haney’s account but signed by Zboray stating,
All MDIHS students will be bused to MDES for reunification. Reunification will begin once all high school students are there. Elementary students are being dismissed at there (sic) regular time so that we buses to transport students to MDES. Reunification tables will be set up in front of the gym with four lines for parents to line up. Lines will be by alphabetical order.
1 – A-F
4 – T-Z
High school Students will not be dismissed until all are at MDES
We appreciate your cooperation as we get students safely to MDES.
Another email arrived from Zboray via the same method around 3:45 p.m. stating, “We do not have an exact time for reunification. Our job is to safely get all students to MDES so they can be reunified with you. I will send a text as soon as the process will begin. Reunification will most likely begin in an hour. Please wait for a text from me. Again, all students are safe. We are following our protocols to ensure student and staff safety.”
Another email from Zboray to parents sent around 4:42 read,
“Dear Parents – Again, students are safe and making their way to MDES for reunification. It is important that we follow our process for reunification so we can account for all our students. It will most likely be another half an hour to 45 minutes when all students are at MDES. As soon as all students are out of the school I will send another note.
“Thank you for your patience.”
Traffic in Mount Desert was reportedly changed to one-way only on certain streets during the reunification process. Chris Popper, director of sports programming and senior account executive at Townsquare Media reported on his Facebook at around 4 p.m. that it was “very orderly at Mount Desert Elementary School.” Students and staff were escorted into the building and given water. He also said that “everyone seems very calm.” Popper reported live from the high school as well. Parents queued along the sidewalks in Northeast Harbor, many with cellphones out, waiting for their students.
At 5:40 p.m., the Town of Bar Harbor’s Facebook page announced that “Mount Desert High School is cleared, and the reunification process is underway.” The MDI High School campus remained closed with student and staff vehicles still in the lot.
One police officer was staging outside of the MDI YMCA throughout most of the lockdown and then shortly after 3 p.m., he was joined by two other police vehicles. The MDI YMCA cancelled all after school activities. The police presence there then reduced to one. It is not known at press time whether or not this was related to the high school’s lockdown.
EARLIER LOCKDOWNS AND DRILLS
On September 29, the high school had another lockdown, which occurred around 1:15 p.m. That was a false alarm according to Zboray, who sent a letter to the parents of students quickly after the event.
In 2018, the high school made the news when it postponed a lockdown drill that had been scheduled for February 15, the day after the Parkland shooting tragedy in Florida. Some of the students instead had a silent protest and vigil in the hallway.
In April of 2018, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department arrested a 17-year-old MDI High School student who lived in Franklin for allegedly posting a threat to “shoot up” the school. He was charged with Class C terrorizing, a felony. That threat had been sent via Snapchat to a Hancock resident. In February of that same year another student pretended to be a different student and posted another, different school shooting threat.
2022 IN SCHOOLS ACROSS THE NATION
This year is the worst on record when it comes to the amount of “incidents with guns being displayed or fired, or bullets hitting school property,” according to James Densley, David Riedman and Jillian Peterson of The Conversation.
Over 700 people have been shot at American school property since February 2018 since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting occurred. Shootings have occurred pretty much yearly in the US since 1966.
The trio of reporters wrote,
“The increase in shootings in and around school buildings has many parents, students and teachers on edge. An October 2022 Pew Research survey found that one-third of parents report being “very worried” or “extremely worried” about a shooting at their child’s school.
“Aside from the near daily occurrences of actual school shootings, there are also the near misses and false alarms that only add to the heightened sense of threat.
“In September, a potential attack was averted in Houston when police got a tip that a student planned to chain the cafeteria doors shut and shoot students who were trapped inside. The following day near Dallas, another tip sent police scrambling to stop a vehicle on the way to a high school homecoming football game. Two teens had a loaded semiautomatic rifle and planned to commit a mass shooting at the stadium, it is alleged.
“There have also been thousands of false reports of shootings this year. Hoaxes, swatting calls, even a viral TikTok school shooting challenge have sent schools across the nation into lockdown. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of these threats are automated 911 calls from overseas, but police have no choice but to respond.
“People are so much on edge that a popped balloon at one California school in September led to an active shooter response from police. The sound of a metal pipe banging in August caused thousands of people to flee an Arkansas high school football stadium for fear of being shot. A loud bang from a chair being thrown caused a code red lockdown and parents to rush to a Florida high school.”
CAN THEY BE AVERTED
According to an interview on phys.org by Lisa Marshall with Beverly Kingston, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, shootings can be averted and therefore lessoned.
“We need better bystander reporting and response systems nationwide—making sure schools tell their students to report anything of concern, and students have adults they can trust to take appropriate action. Systems like this can be used to report tips anonymously, and when those tips get investigated, it might be found out if someone’s stockpiling weapons or other really concerning behaviors are going on. Since Colorado’s system, Safe2Tell, was launched in 2004, it is estimated that well over 1,500 planned school attacks have been averted.
“Schools should also have systems in place to share information, not only within the school but also with law enforcement, if necessary, and other community partners outside the school. In the Arapaho High School shooting, our research saw 27 missed opportunities to intervene. With the shooter in Parkland, Florida, we saw 69. Every school or district, depending on the size, should also have a threat assessment team that follows troubled students over time, even after they finish K-12.
“We’ve got to come together as a community and be watching out for them, not in a punitive way but because we want them to transition well into an adulthood and not fall through the cracks.”
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