Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Superintendent wrong to criticize use of pledge

To the editor:

I question Northampton Superintendent Brian Salzer’s assertion that asking high school students to write a pledge to aid the police investigation of an anonymous threat was wrong.

Wrong in what sense? Not legally, since the effort had the support of both the Northampton Police Department and the Northwestern district attorney’s office. I assume the action was also not procedurally wrong, since the article did not mention that any written protocol to handle such a situation existed. And most importantly, the action does not seem to be wrong in the fact that it seemed to be a practical and measured response to a real threat at the high school.

Salzer stated that the “idea of collecting writing samples from students was suggested in a Dec. 20 faculty meeting” which was also attended by the police. What is unclear is whether or not Salzer also attended this meeting. One could assume that he was not present, or else he would surely have dismissed the option outright since it was “not our way of doing business.”

If indeed he was not present at the meeting, it questions the diligence and commitment shown in response to these serious events.

Shouldn’t a school superintendent be involved enough to be aware of and attend a faculty/police meeting taking place a day after a serious threat at the school? The very day that there was a police presence at the school itself?

Like many parents of school-aged children, I was horrified by the events that transpired in Newtown just five days before the threatening note was found at the high school. The fact that this happened in a nearby community made clear to us all that incidents like these unfortunately can and do happen here.

I am keenly aware of the need to protect and preserve our treasured civil rights. I take pride in the fact that our town is widely perceived as progressive and inclusive. It is one of the reasons I choose to live and raise my children here. It is right to examine any action that seems to infringe on these rights.

But a little common sense is required in any such analysis. I believe that in this case the steps taken were an appropriate response to a dangerous situation and that the preservation of public safety was of paramount importance.

I am grateful to the Northampton Police Department, Assistant Principal Bryan Lombardi and the high school staff for their actions taken in response to the serious threat at the high school. The work that these people do day in and day out is inspiring.

Stephen Roach

Northampton

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