10/15/13 — Worker blamed for skit scare

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Worker blamed for skit scare

By John Joyce
Published in News on October 15, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County Public Schools officials are investigating why an employee, dressed as a masked gunman holding a toy pistol, entered each of the six sixth-grade classes at Eastern Wayne Middle School Friday as part of what the principal there called "an enrichment lesson."

The school district would not identify the employee, positively identify his position or offer any other information regarding his status at the school saying that it the incident is "an internal matter" and that school officials, therefore, do not have to release details to the public.

Principal Catherine Fulcher, in a letter sent home to parents Monday, explained that the incident was an unintended consequence of a classroom exercise.

"As part of an enrichment lesson on exhibiting good citizenship and observing your surroundings, another staff member entered the sixth-grade classrooms and pretended to steal an item while dressed in a ski mask and holding a toy pistol," the letter reads.

Wayne County Public Schools Director of Communication Services Ken Derksen, who released a copy of the letter, spoke about the incidents via email and telephone.

Mrs. Fulcher refused comment, referring all questions to Derksen.

Derksen said the staff member who was play-acting changed the skit without the knowledge or consent of the teachers.

As to why the skit was allowed to occur five more times after it was executed differently than planned the first time, Derksen said "it all happened very quickly."

Mrs. Fulcher was not made aware of the incidents until after the close of school on Friday, he added.

The original intent of the exercise was to have the staff member, "dressed normally," go into the classroom, remove an item and walk out. The students were then to be handed an activity sheet to complete on which they observed, according to Derksen.

The activity sheets were still completed as planned, and only two of the classes were not informed prior to the event that "something was going to happen," he said.

"It was handled well as far as the teachers' response in explaining very quickly to the students that it was not real," Derksen said.

The school system cited privacy laws preventing them from discussing the investigation or identifying the staff member involved.

Derksen did say that no disciplinary action has yet been taken. He then issued the following statement.

"Wayne County Public Schools works very hard to create a safe learning environment and takes this matter very seriously," he said. "The district feels that this exercise in its original intent was appropriate, but was not executed with the best judgment or sensitivity toward student concerns."