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Parent Concerned with 'Hit List' Student Returning to West Middle School

After School Superintendent Marinel McGrath reported that a West Middle School student was in possession of a hit list, one parent says there are many concerned about the safety of the children if the student returns to school.

Andover Public School officials are investigating a West Middle School student who wrote a hit list comprised of students at the school. And one parent of an eighth-grade student at West Middle School says the school community wants more information on the incident and many parents, this parent included, are worried about the safety of their children if this student is immediately returned to school. 

This parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that it is understood that the "aggressor's" personal information is protected, but feels the school should provide more details on the incident itself and how they know the students and staff will be safe. 

“Parents are horrified that this student is/may be returning back to school,” said the West Middle School parent.

Last Friday, Andover School Superintendent Marinel McGrath announced the school has been investigating a student who was in possession of a hit list containing the names of students at West Middle School. In a statement to press, she said that the school has taken the appropriate measures to ensure safety.

However, if the decision was made to let the student back to school after the break, this parent wants to know how they know for sure that the student will not carry through with the plan and that the student body and staff will be safe. 

The parent said the list allegedly had 10 names on it and described when, where and how the student would carry out his plan. The list indicated an specific threat to the student body and staff at the school. 

The plan for bullying at this specific school is not effective, the West Middle School parent says, and that more active measures are needed to address the issue of bullying in the school, besides a flashy public relations campaign. 

Andover Police Lt. James Hashem did not immediately repsond to a request for comment made Friday night. 

McGrath did not immediately respond to a request for an update on the incident at West Middle School on Sunday afternoon. 

Are you the parent of an Andover Public School student? Would you want to know more information about this before letting your student return to school with another student who had planned to carry out a school shooting or the equivalent? Let us know in the comments. 

Check back with Andover.Patch.com for updates on this article. 

Andover parent x February 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Dear Richard Hudak, who are you to be giving Andover parents advice on how we should accept this behaviour? And please stop promoting one book by one author Katherine Newman with one opinion, even if it may be an educated one. I have worked with kids as a volunteer in several capacities for many years, and one school of thought doesn't work for every situation, every kid, every parent, every school... so stop paraphrasing someone else's work. My opinion, shared by me...this child was caught red handed, so to speak, writing lists, with children's names, faculty, times etc... does not belong in our school... he just reached out and told us that. Put him back in the school and it will be much worse for him. I don't know this child but he needs help and I hope he gets it, but not at WMS... WHY? First my child attends the school and I have every right to be concerned about my child. Second, in this information age, I already know this child's name... and so will everyone in the school as soon as the kids go back to school. Children talk a lot more than adults and with less concern for the outcome. So what happens to this child then??? If you really want to help the community, send this child to a proper school that is equipped to help him. This is a responsible way to help all the other innocent children in our school system.
Richard Hudak February 18, 2013 at 10:42 PM
The generalizability of the research owes to its research methodology. Its authority rests in the body of work which frames its explanations. Further, Newman and her graduate student associates performed this study at the request of the Department of Education and the National Academy of Sciences. It's not mere opinion. Specifically, Newman sent four graduate students to two communities that had experienced school shootings. They conducted field research and in-depth interviews in both places. From that they constructed a theory of how school shootings occur. They entertained many opinions in the process. Then, the researchers test this theory against three data sets: one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on youth mortality, one from the Department of Education and Secret Service's Safe Schools Initiative, and one they had constructed from newspaper accounts of school shootings dating back to the 1970s. I never suggested the child should return to school. In fact, I think the evidence gathered by Newman and her associates warrants the opposite, that trouble can ensue when threats are not taken seriously. One of the proven causes of school shootings is that for one reason or another, threats are not surfaced. I am suggesting that both reason and a thoroughgoing compassion inform our policy choices and public discourse on these vital issues. It is the very seriousness of the incident that causes scholars to exercise such care in their conclusions.
Andover Family February 18, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Innocent? Not all!! Ugh...the people on the list should be able to go back to WMS? Why? so they can do this to another child???They need just as much help as the child who wrote the list!! I am in no way saying that child should go back but what about the others?? Also...this is "Andover" we will never know the truth or facts!! Just like so many other cases here in Andover!! Thanks for all the input hudak...freedom of speech....everyone can voice their opinion!!
Richard Hudak February 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Andrea Fotter, I share your concern about bullying in schools. As a member of the search committee which recommended Denise Holmes as a finalist for the position as Principal of West Middle School, I made sure to advocate that school climate was an important concern of parents. I was pleased to see the implementation of the Olweus method. It is a painful thing to witness one's own children bullied in a school environment. It can be difficult to watch the glacial pace of policy changes. I have been further pleased to see the Commonwealth adopt strict rules about bullying and to see these implemented when my children were at Andover High School. Newman observes that one thing leading to the success of efforts to prevent school shootings is that these efforts benefit everyone. Better mental health services in schools and communities benefit all. Efforts to improve school climate and prevent bullying help everyone. We succeed best together, with respect for all stakeholders in schools: children first, but also parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. Let's focus on the positive. A threat was thwarted. Not every community has that advantage. Perhaps that perspective will help us quell the hysteria, and allow the appropriate stakeholders to assess the mental health situation of the child, and re-examine school security and school climate.
andover citizen February 19, 2013 at 01:05 AM
How do we know that the kids on the list were bullies? These are young teenagers. Some kids are hated or disliked because of what other kids perceive...prettier, smarter, more popular etc...to assume the kids on the list bullied this kid is an assumption and shouldn't be made until you know the facts.
Ray DePaula February 19, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Ya...good point. I grew up in the 70's with old world parents. I got 1butt kicking when I was a child. Its a lot to do with respect as a child parent. We do spoil our kids. I have a tween daughter and whe. I look at her she knows to stop. And I don't have to touch her. A lot COULD have to deal with a absent parent??? Tv does have a lot to do with it....from young age if they watch aggressive tv shows/cartoons. They will act aggressive. Compared to shows with family values and nurturing.
Richard Hudak February 19, 2013 at 01:15 AM
It is true we don't know if bullying was involved. But as the possibility exists, far be it from me to be dismissive of Andrea Fotter's concern.
Richard Hudak February 19, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Newman evaluates the popular explanation of "changing families," and finds little evidence to support it. Rather, in "Leave it to Beaver" towns like ours, it is assumed that "someone must know" about questionable behavior, and warning signs go unreported. Violent media do play a role, but as follows. Not everyone exposed to violent media acts out. But they do constitute "cultural scripts" for acting violently. Those who already socially marginal, perhaps because they were bullied, and whose psychosocial problems (could be mental illness) magnifies the impact of that marginality, pick up these scripts and use them.
Tom February 19, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Who is Andrea trotter? Bblameseveryone else ..... Just like newtown & CO ... It's never the perps fault is it? Back in the good old days .... You got together with a few friends and took the Billie out with a few punches, now the Trotters of the world say its ok for alledged victims to create "lists!" Hahhhhh. If the bullying is that bad (and I doubt it at WMS) leave .... I know my boys would be taken out. No reason for this kid to be in WMS without a psych eval. None!!! All liberals who want touchy feel crap should be happy this Monday as we all get in touch with our inning feelings. What about the kids on the list - what about the rest of the school body who now live in fear?
Andover Family February 19, 2013 at 12:01 PM
The one who made the list most likely lived in fear everyday!! Just want people to realize there are others involved not just that one child who made the list!! Who am I? A concerned citizen who has every right to voice her opinion!!
Tom February 19, 2013 at 03:42 PM
You are correct there is more than one side to every story: 1) Any kid that prepares a "hit list" needs a pscyh evaluaiton before being allowed back to school 2) If kids on the list bullied him then they should be investigated thoroughly and appropriate action taken 3) What about the rest of the Student Body who will now go to school in fear next week....I do nt hear much emphaty for them in all your posts about "blaming those on the list....". Its always someone elses fault in this day and age,,,,,,,,,,someone made me do it, somone made me cheat, someone made me haze someone at a basketball camp. if the kid has issues lets get him help before he goes back to school!!!!!
Andover Family February 19, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Agree...lets get him help!! Totally with you on that :) if you look back to my other posts you will see that all I said was your #2 the names on the list investigated!! The point I wanted to make was a person can only take so much before they break!! I am not one to blame others...I simply want to know what made this child do this and to answer this question we need to ask the names on the list!! Once we answer the why?? Then we can work towards it not happening again...but to simply say as one parent on here did ...he is disturbed and prey for him is not ok!! Lets ask ourselves and our children why?? And that's when I said lets teach our children to be nice and celebrate differences...what I want some people to remember is that it only takes one hurtful thing one time to be said to break someone!! I have lots of empathy for the rest of the children that's why I want the people on the list to be investigated so that "if" they were bullying they don't break down another child...we all know that the one who made the so called list will not return to WMS for so many reasons...so lets protect others by investigating the names!!
Tom February 19, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Andrea ...... Great post
And Over February 19, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Richard, your willingness to give voice to Andrea hurts your otherwise solid credentials. You seem a wonderful, thoughtful person, but lunacy should never be tolerated. She is not "partly" victim blaming, she IS victim blaming and should be shouted down at top volume. This boy went into one class and simply wrote down every name in the class. Bullying programs and awareness are great, but to allow anybody to suggest for one second that the many kids who ended up in this kid's book are at all to blame is preposterous.
And Over February 19, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Kids who bullied him (which there is no evidence of) should be investigated if this child reported said bullying to authorities, NOT because they were on a list (which may not exist) in the book (which does exist) of a sick child. As I posted earlier, he went into one class and simply wrote down the name of every student (this was at the end when he started carrying the book in the open, so possibly a cry for help).
Andover Family February 19, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Not justifying just want to know why?? Not lashing out just want people to see that others behaviors affect people! Sorry you feel that way!!
Andover Family February 20, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Certainly not...but do u know the one who wrote it?? Why he wrote it? What was going on in his life? What brought him to it? No you don't but you are making statements about him based on what? I guess we are both guilty of the same thing!! I did not criticize the names on the list parents I said we all need to teach our children to be nice and celebrate differences...what u are accusing me of you are doing the same thing! I hope they don't release the name of the one who wrote it!! nice. and celebrate differences!! I hope
Andover Family February 20, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Oops keyboard messed up!!'
Richard Hudak February 20, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Arkansas shooter Andrew Golden came from a nice, "stable" extended family. "Back in my day," "old-fashioned values" approaches just do not wash as policy recommendations. Improving mental health services and school climate helps everyone, whether they were making the list or on it. Andrea Fotter, thank you for using your real name and taking ownership of your comments. News providers find that the quality and civility of commentary improves when people do so.
Former Andover Teacher February 20, 2013 at 11:17 AM
It is time to reevaluate the lack of guidance counselors in the middle schools. I cannot believe that such an important service was cut for students at their most emotionally vulnerable age.
Richard Hudak February 20, 2013 at 04:26 PM
This is a clear structural deficit, and one around which passionate stakeholders can easily rally.
Richard Hudak February 20, 2013 at 04:26 PM
I saw a beautiful and powerful animated short on bullying today. http://www.upworthy.com/bullies-called-him-pork-chop-he-took-that-pain-with-him-and-then-cooked-it-into?c=upw4#
And Over February 20, 2013 at 05:09 PM
That's great, but you continue to link your cause to a case where, by your own admission, you don't have proof it happened. By creating this dialogue about bullying that now outweighs the original text by tenfold at least, you've essentially pushed the average reader to assume bullying occurred. They then make stereotypical assumptions about who the bullys were. Then people like Andrea wish bad things upon them.
Andover Family February 20, 2013 at 08:40 PM
What? I did not wish bad things upon anyone! Guess what? You can scroll back up and see exactly what I wrote!! I said the names on the list need to be investigated and evaluated along with the one who wrote the list!! Get YOUR facts straight!! Ugh...
And Over February 20, 2013 at 09:03 PM
You have presumed a large number of 13-14 year old kids guilty and worthy of investigation because their name was written by a sick child. Never mind that their life was threatened, that seems of little concern to you. You are concerned for the sick child and the other kids at the school not on the list, but have a transparent disdain for those on the list (which may not even exist). If you were a 14-year-old kid and had your life threatened, then the authorities reacted by investigating YOU, that would be a "bad thing" -- and that is what you are wishing upon them.
Andover Family February 20, 2013 at 09:15 PM
If you say so!! Do you know the facts of the letter?? No you don't so you are doing the same thing by calling him sick...all I am saying is "I hope they investigate the names" and u r saying "they had their lives threatened so leave them alone???" That makes no sense....don't you want to know why their lives were threatened?? I guess we just need to wait for ALL THE FACTS...and agree to disagree...being different is what makes this world beautiful...if we were all the same it would be boring!!
Concerned Mother February 21, 2013 at 12:54 AM
I was told the child who wrote the list, was NOT bullied. Did he fit in? Did he have a lot of friends or was he a loner? This is not the appropriate place to comment. I know that if my child came up with a hit list of kids to kill, I would get them help asap and say he or she is sick. Sick of not fitting in, sick of being alone, whatever context you can live with it.....an adult, or a child, who wants to kill is sick, spiritually, mentally, physically, whatever context you choose as politically appropriate. Say it how you want to but he/she needs help. So okay, I will agree that I disagree with your comments.
Concerned Mother February 21, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Very nice choice.
Joan February 24, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Yes - We do know if was bullying! Look in the mirror!
Concerned Mother February 24, 2013 at 08:26 PM
http://valleypatriot.com/chief-solomon-search-your-childrens-rooms-read-their-diaries/ Please read the above article and see how Methuen Highschool recently avoided another Columbine because a student reported the same threat we just had at West Middle.

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