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Administrators taken to task over the way threat incident was handled

Published January 15. 2013 05:01PM

Several Northern Lehigh School District administrators have been taken to task over an incident last month in which terroristic threats were made against students at Slatington Elementary.

Stacey Olewine, of Slatington, distributed copies of her letter, as well as a printed copy that denoted a time line of worldwide school and mass shootings since 1996, to the school board on Monday.

Olewine then read a prepared statement, at which time she said that she believes in the school district, as she is a graduate of, a resident of, and a parent of three students, who currently attend the district.

A teacher in the public school system, Olewine noted she is "a child advocate who protects the students who attend our public schools. I am a mandated reporter by law to report whenever financial, physical, sexual, or other types of abuse have been observed or are suspected, or when there is evidence of neglect to a child."

Olewine continued "as a parent, and then a mandated reporter, I am here tonight to respectfully address the board with my concerns about an incident that included terroristic threats against my son on Dec. 7 at Slatington Elementary School. Once hearing my concerns, I am asking that the board remediate the educational malpractice that is occurring within our school district."

Through the investigation of the Dec. 7 incident, Olewine said she experienced the following: a lack of timely communication from both the principal of Slatington Elementary School and the superintendent; a lack of fostering a strong home-school relationship; failure to report a terroristic threat to local police authorities; failure to follow board Policy 218.2 with an immediate and effective response to a situation involving a threat or act; disrespectful treatment to me by the building principal and superintendent; and a 'botched' investigation that was riddled with mistruths, incomplete facts and lack of preparedness by the building principal and lack of responsiveness from the superintendent.

"I understand that student matters and personnel issues are discussed [by the school board] in executive session; therefore, my personal experiences with your superintendent and the Slatington Elementary building principal are being shared with you through a written document that has been provided to the board secretary," she said. "As of tonight, I am publicly placing you, Northern Lehigh School Board Directors, on notice, this school district is required by law to provide my children, and all the children who attend the Northern Lehigh schools, with a safe and secure learning environment."

Board President Edward Hartman told Olewine that both the school board, as well as the school district, has the utmost concern for all parents, students and faculty, and that the goal has always been to provide a safe learning environment.

Olewine again signaled out board Policy 218.2, specifically with concern to safety, and added "as a parent, and as an educator, I cannot understand why the police were not contacted immediately."

Hartman assured Olewine the board will review the policy.

"We will address the policy," Hartman said. "I can guarantee that."

Another mother, who after the meeting requested to remain anonymous, said she has a daughter "who is a victim in this criminal investigation."

She also distributed a copy of a letter she wrote to board members.

Director Gregory Williams told the parents that the board's Policy Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month.

After the meeting, Superintendent Michael Michaels declined to comment on the situation.

Efforts to reach Slatington Elementary Principal Linda Marcincin in time for today's publication were unsuccessful.

Contacted this morning, Slatington Police Chief Dave Rachman confirmed that the incident did, in fact, occur.

Rachman said it was a case of a threat that was "made from one of the students to some other students."

An officer was contacted by a concerned parent on the evening of Dec. 7. At that point, Rachman said he spoke to the parent of the suspect, and was advised by the mother that she was already aware of the situation, and that she was meeting with her child and the school principal the morning of Dec. 10.

From there, he said one of the officers then continued the investigation, and got statements from the persons that the threat was relayed to, and spoke with the juvenile and the mother.

The matter was then subsequently conferred with the District Attorney's office, and a decision was made to file charges, said Rachman, who added the juvenile has been charged with terroristic threats.

"We have to take all these things seriously," Rachman said. "We have to follow up on everything."

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