Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times that you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
--John Wesley, 1703-1791
This has been one of the most difficult weeks of my career. During the past ten days, we lost an eighth grade student, a mother, her fourteen year-old son and six year-old daughter, Mark Ludke, a Thornton teacher, and Dr. Robert Hatcher, principal of Campbell MS until he became ill in March. Life is fragile; we have all heard that said before. I cannot imagine losing my eighth grade son and I certainly can not begin to know how a father deals with losing his wife, son and daughter in a tragic accident. On Wednesday, a son and daughter celebrated the life of their father who had taught at Thornton; what a difficult task for the children that he raised. We have had our crisis counselor teams on four campuses this week to help our students and staff deal with the powerful emotions that they are feeling. This week has illustrated that we should definitely cherish every moment that we have with our loved ones and we should let them know how important they are in our lives. I hope that you have the opportunity to spend some time in thought and prayer for the families in our district who lost loved ones. As we reflect and consider how we can help others overcome their challenges and enjoy the life that is granted to us, we must try to walk in their shoes. It is easy to assume that we know what others are dealing with and we can become judgmental; that is not our role. As educators, we help others to prepare for their futures, without bias and without assuming that we know what others face every day. I am proud of the staff members of CFISD. There are more times than I can remember, that staff members gave sacrificially to help their co-workers and students. I am sure that there have been times when differences existed between staff members, but when times were difficult, CFISD staff members pulled together to help students and their fellow workers. We must pray for better weeks and for those whose lives have changed forever during the course of a week.
The death of Asher Brown, eighth-grader at Hamilton MS has garnered national attention. As many of you know, the parents of Asher have alleged that his death was a result of bullying at school. There is no doubt that bullying behaviors are a reality in our society in and out of our schools, churches, and youth organizations. During the past several months, there have been a number of stories documenting and alleging cases of bullying. Several district staff members have spent time at Hamilton MS talking with administrators, teachers, counselors, students and others to gather as much factual data as possible about the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragedy. Our preliminary investigation does not substantiate the specific instances of bullying alleged, but we are still reviewing video camera footage and other records. Additionally, on Friday morning, District Attorney Pat Lykos announced that she was opening an investigation into the death of Asher Brown. I applaud the DA for her actions and look forward to the results of a comprehensive, external investigation. The effort by the DA will provide an unbiased, professional investigation, which is important for working toward closure on such a tragic event. Once all investigations are completed, we will take all of the necessary actions to make every effort to prevent another student from reaching the point of hopelessness and helplessness that caused Asher to see suicide as his only option for peace.
Our district has addressed bullying through our academic, disciplinary, and counseling programs, and we will continue to address it. We are reviewing our policies and seeking additional resources in an effort to provide additional information to all of our staff, students and parents as expeditiously as possible.
Addressing bullying behavior will require the proverbial "village." The family, school, faith-based community and youth organizations must work together to identify those who bully and those who are bullied. Communication networks must be developed and utilized across our "community or village."
The worst tragedies are those that might have been prevented. Regardless of the findings of all of the investigations, formal and informal, there will always be questions that can never be answered. That is the worst-case scenario in public education and one that we must strive to prevent occurring again.
Dr. David Anthony, superintendent
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