LETTER: Superintendent Brand Asks Community Members Not To Take Allegations To Social Media Or News Outlets Before District Can Investigate; Pledges Transparency While Protecting Students & Staff

Dear Members of the Wilmington Community,

I am writing to you to share my concerns as well as seek your assistance as a member of our school community. This message comes in the wake of yet another unfortunate incident that the district is faced with.

Late last week there were allegations of an incident involving one of our athletic coaches following a varsity game with another high school team. Upon learning about the occurrence, the district took appropriate steps to begin our information gathering and formal investigation. We are just as concerned as all those involved, however there’s a process the district is required to follow to resolve any allegations.

As will always be the intent, the efforts were immediate in communicating directly with individuals connected with the matter – in this case the student-athletes and parents/guardians of the varsity team. It did not seem appropriate or necessary to convey this information to everyone in the school district. Unfortunately, someone outside of the district took steps to forward the administrations letter to the local media thereby sharing this news with the ‘world’ and within hours local social media had posted it online and the district received outreach from Boston media sources. I can’t share with you how troubling and damaging this is for everyone in our community. And, unfortunately, such actions follow a pattern in the wake of other school-related events.

I aim to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible in sharing information regarding incidents that occur within our school community. This includes carefully weighing the effects of any message with the potential impact for those involved. In this way, I often communicate directly with those most connected to the situation. Clearly, a more significant issue may warrant messages with the entire district, but usually it is a localized matter and focusing the communication seems to be the most respectful and appropriate approach.

What is difficult to understand and manage, is when communications are shared with the media and/or posted widely on-line. What inevitably comes from this is one or more things: 1) the insinuation that the district is ignoring an issue because we are not communicating with the entire community; 2) that sharing the information with the press only leads to more ‘bad press’ (usually) cast on our entire school community and the town and; 3) most importantly, the individuals involved in the incident are often victimized by the media posting. I sincerely believe that adverse publicity like this is taking a toll on our staff and on our students.

Please know that I genuinely believe that open and transparent communication with our stakeholders is critical and my administration will continue to commit to this course of action. Our community deserves nothing short of this. When any community members have questions or concerns, know that I, members of our leadership team, and the School Committee members welcome outreach directly.

On behalf of our students, staff and families, I believe we all deserve better. What we are seeking is the good, the positive and uplifting attention that Wilmington is so deserving of – let’s share that with the world!

Thank you for your ongoing support, understanding and assistance.

Kind Regards,

Glenn Brand, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

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