School officials right to see errors of pledge
To the editor:
As parents of a student at Northampton High School, we want to thank Northampton school administrators for acknowledging that it was wrong to intentionally mislead students into signing a bogus “pledge” specifically designed to gather evidence to turn over to police as part of a criminal investigation (“School chief: Pledge ruse ‘not our way of doing business,’ ” Jan. 26-27).
We appreciate the urgency of the safety concerns that led school officials to work closely with police following the discovery of a threatening note at the school. We are confident that the actions involved were taken with the best of intentions.
However, deliberately lying to students about the purpose of the pledge, using teachers as covert law enforcement agents to trick students into providing potentially incriminating evidence and consciously choosing not to communicate with parents before or after these actions were highly counterproductive in building the sense of trust, mutual respect and community that is needed to ensure the security of our schools.
The issue of school safety is not a one-time event, but rather a sad consequence of easy access to guns, lack of understanding about behavioral health issues and social isolation for many teens and young adults.
Our best chance to avoid tragedy is for schools, families and others in the community to work together, openly and honestly, to prevent the alienation, loneliness and anger that can lead to acts of violence.
We are dismayed that the Northampton Police Department and the Northwestern district attorney’s office continue to defend their roles in this wrong-headed action.
But school administrators, in acknowledging their mistake, have earned our trust.