Appo Superintendent Matt Burrows Failed To Disclose Student Pointed Handgun At Student In Parent Letter

The Delaware State Police issued a press release today about the arrest of Tymere Moore, an 18 year old Middletown High School student in Appoquinimink School District.  It gives much more information than the statement Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows sent to parents yesterday.  Including the very disturbing fact that the student actually pulled out the handgun and pointed it at another student.  The primary charge in the arrest was for brandishing a handgun.  Which was not mentioned in Burrows’ parent letter at all.

From the Delaware State Police press release:

The altercation escalated when Moore threw a bottle at the female, which struck her in the head, causing a minor injury. An 18 year old male student who witnessed the incident intervened, and became engaged in a verbal altercation with Moore, at which time the two agreed to move to a nearby bathroom to continue the argument. Once in the bathroom Moore removed a 9mm handgun from his book bag and pointed it at the male student.

Burrows said in his statement to parents the student “was taken into custody without incident” which is a far cry from what really happened as shown in the State Police press release:

Soon after the incident school administrators received information that Moore was possibly in possession of a handgun.  Moore was immediately located within the school and an attempt was made to escort him to a secure area. He refused to comply with the request and a physical altercation ensued, which resulted in Moore striking one of the administrators. Moore was eventually brought under control by assisting staff members and moved to a secure office. Once in the office an administrative search of Moore’s book bag produced a 9mm handgun.

His actual arrest, once state troopers arrived, may have gone down “without incident“, but getting him to the office sounded like a hell of a struggle.  Why was the school not placed on immediate lockdown?  The school was aware there was a gun in the school.  Why would they even take a chance?  In Burrow’s statement to parents, it begins with “shortly before noon today” but the Delaware State Police press release states “The incident began at approximately 10:50am.”  How much time went by between 10:50am and the time the student was placed into police custody?  How much time went by from the time the student threw a bottle at a female student and the discovery of the 9mm handgun?

Don’t get me wrong.  Nothing happened in terms of shots being fired.  The staff did stop the situation from escalating at certain points.  But you have a situation where an argument occurs in a hallway, a students gets a bottle thrown at her head, two students go into a bathroom, almost fight, a gun is pulled, and they both come out of the bathroom.  Where are the adults?  Was there no one around when all of this first went down?  How much time elapsed between them coming out of the bathroom and when the school found out he had a gun?

I believe Burrows should have included a lot of this information in his initial statement to parents.  He, or the building Principal, should have made the call to place the school on lockdown.  If the student had one weapon, what assurances were there he didn’t have more?  At the time of the incident, news was filtering out about the horrible school shooting in Santa Fe, TX.  Burrows did not release the parent letter until 4pm yesterday, over five hours after the incident began.

The State Police said the student stole the handgun from a car and brought it into the school.  That was determined by the State Police investigation so there is no way the Middletown High School administrators could have known about that.  There was no mention of a School Resource Officer in either Burrows’ parent letter or the State Police press release.  I would think the SRO would have been involved in this at some point.  None of the names Burrows singled out in his letter included an SRO.

While I am extremely relieved no shots were fired, there are some glaring holes in Burrows’ letter and the official State Police press release.  These holes need to be filled by Burrows.  I have no doubt it was a very troubling incident and it rattled a lot of folks at the school and the district office.  But leaving out key information to parents is never a good idea.  It will call them to immediately raise their eyebrows and wonder WHY certain things were not disclosed.  When it comes to safety of students, NO information should ever be left out.

This incident also leads to an even bigger question: How many guns are coming into Delaware schools on a daily basis?  Luckily, one was found yesterday.  But that was because of circumstances that led to that.  How many students are concealing weapons in book bags or lockers and no one is the wiser?  Should there be metal detectors or body screens in all of our schools?  If you walk into any police headquarters, Legislative Hall, or courtrooms in Delaware, there are metal detectors.  You have to empty your pockets with anything metal and bags are placed in scanners.  Why would we not do the same thing in our schools?  It only takes one time for a Delaware school to become a statistic.

 

19 thoughts on “Appo Superintendent Matt Burrows Failed To Disclose Student Pointed Handgun At Student In Parent Letter

  1. Very easy to analyze the situation and poke holes, after the fact. YOU, don’t need to know all the facts. It is up to Law Enforcement and the administration to sort things out, first! Then, the parents, should be made aware. Most of the time the media/bloggers can get facts wrong, coming from 2nd or 3rd parties.

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    • I sent Matt Burrows an email that will clarify the whole situation with one very easy question. Hoping for a quick response. I based what I wrote on the parent letter from Appo and the DSP press release.

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  2. And I’m sure, your the one to get the info out. You compared the schools to courts, in regards to metal detectors, which are totally different. Let the professionals work this out, Not a blogger!

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    • What are you even talking about? Yes, they are different because our courts have more protection than our schools. I am drawing attention to this Anono. If I have to use a blog to do it, I will. What have you done?

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      • The courts have more protection, because of their clientele! Drug charges, child custody cases, etc. YES, we should protect our children and there are numerous ways to do that. Some of these kids want attention and the NJ has posted this as well.

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          • There is a fine line. You don’t want a learning environment to be a jail. You try to teach people to be free thinkers. YES, you want people to be safe, but where is that going. I could bring up many scenerio’s, but this is not the place. Guns, your focusing on guns, LOOK at the bigger picture. Your missing a great deal; that the professionals, need to look at! Stick to what your good at Educational awareness, your way over your head.

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          • Why is it over my head? Because I’m a blogger? Please. I fully understand this isn’t just about guns. This is something I just replied to someone on Facebook when they asked what is going on with kids nowadays: “When I was a kid, there was none of this. Granted, I grew up in a more affluent area so the likelihood of something happening there now is less likely. But I think a lot of it has to do with how kids grow up now. They are used to instant gratification, whether through social media or digital technology. When I was a kid, we had to wait for things. Only one person could use a telephone in the house. We had to share more and be patient. That doesn’t exist as much now. Our schools, I hate to say it, have become more concerned about testing and performance than actual instruction. The pendulum swings back and forth between accountability and schools thinking they are being too tough on kids. Bullying isn’t the same thing now as it was when we were kids. It comes out of the school through social media. We opened up Pandora’s Box with technology and we can’t put the lid back on. As well, we have many more special education kids now. Some of which are on some pretty heavy drugs even though they are prescription. I could go on all night.”

            I don’t want society to become like “Minority Report”. But at the same time, I want my own son and all kids to be able to go to school without any fear of someone bringing in a gun and shooting up the place. I want our teachers to feel safe as well. I think most of the situations like this going on in schools are based on things going on outside of the schools. But the problem is that even though things are being brought into schools, we MUST make sure we protect our schools. If that means metal detectors or body scanners, bring it on. While that won’t prove to be a solution to the overall issues, I’m all for preventative measures to make sure the worst doesn’t happen.

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  3. Kevin, there is a pitchfork and torch show going on in a FB group, totally bashing the district roght now and it may very well be the spirit of yhe parent email you received, so that may be the skeptecism that “Anono” is throwing at you. The FB thread is anything but constructive and really is wanting someone to figuratively bleed over this.
    Think about the events that happened and the timing of the email yesterday.
    They activated a “Hold” and not a lockdown.
    The process to subdue the young man (18 yo) by syaff at MHS – not police – apparently took no more than 10 minutes. Now think about that, if they had actually known a gun was actually pointed at another student, would a “hold” have been enacted or a full-out lockdown? Would they have allowed staff…not police…to attempt to subdue the gun-flashing 18yo? What we are debating on this FB group (“debate” is a nice word) is if the info the staff was given at the time is if someone knew this kid had a gun versus were they told he pointed it at someone. Fast forward to the email – which, by the way, was hastened again by our fine MOT community with their wild swinging rumors – most likely came at a time before much of the facts from DSP were known. Once the suspect os in DSP custody, the updates come from them.
    Burrows is not to blame here and sadly, the FB community police want him to go down.
    I won’t be anonymous. My name is Randy Smith and the older political blogging community, and possibly you, may remember me as “RSmitty” as well as “motnewbie” – my long ago handle.

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          • I don’t think Burrows should go down for this. Could there be some lessons learned with this? Absolutely. Let’s face it, we live in a society where kids (especially in high school) all bring cell phones to school. Once the word “gun” is even mentioned in a school, you know many of them are on those phones. They are either posting on social media or texting mom or dad and telling them what is going on. School districts have to be on top of this and recognize the potential of students getting the word out about a crisis before they can. As a result of that, they need to give as much detail as possible to prevent any type of disinformation getting out there. We will probably never know which was known first, the mention of the kid having the gun or the fact he took it out and pointed it at another kid. I would tend to doubt the State Police would have had a problem with the school announcing that. The kid was already arrested by the time the parent email went out yesterday.

            I will add that, to the best of my knowledge, this hasn’t happened in Appo before, or at least, under Burrows’ reign as Superintendent. But on the same day we hear about another very sad school shooting killing students and teachers, I believe it is incumbent upon our schools to give as much information as possible. Terminate Burrows? No. Learn a few things about how to handle an incident like this in the future? Yes. I salute the staff and teachers who intervened and prevented this from becoming a horrible tragedy. I do want to know why the SRO wasn’t involved in some way. I’ve heard an email went out to parents about a “soft” lockdown went out while they were searching for the kid but it wasn’t a full lockdown. I think it should have been a full lockdown. The kid already hurt a female student, had a gun, and pointed it another student. Just my opinion. Would it have been overkill? Possibly. But I would rather err on the side of caution in a situation like that than not.

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  4. Trust me, the “hold” was over before the email went out. If anyone is telling you otherwise or saying “I heard…,” you are not being told correctly. The MOT Residents page had a post that was on fire already yesterday after the event had ended and before the first email was sent. That, also, is part of the problem. While I get the emotion of parents, there are so many on that group page that expect notifications while they (the school and/or district) are right in the throes of the events. They scream about the safety of their children and in the same breath want to know why they aren’t getting calls and emails at that very moment. It is a fail-only scenario that plays out all the time on these group pages. Yet, how many do you think will take the time to step up to be a part of the task force or any solution?

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    • Sadly, not too many. Here’s the deal though. If the district knows parents are going nuts on a community Facebook page, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going on there themselves and giving SOME type of information and let parents know what is going on. Parents WILL go insane if they even remotely think their children could be in danger. Our schools inundate kids with ed tech but fail to understand that same technology could be very useful in communicating with parents. Our schools scream about wanting parent involvement more but when something bad goes down they don’t want it. It is a double-edged sword with no clear answers.

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      • At this point, they are responding to the blow back on social media and who knows if there are calls being made – I have no idea. With that, being more proactive with notification would be nice (yes, nice), but in these scenarios, is there really ever being “proactive” when just about everything is a reaction of sorts?
        There’s also a thought on what could have been said if an earlier notification was sent. The time elapsed from the initial FB post from a parent to the email was maybe 30 minutes or so. I can only imagine trying to force out a communication while they were still figuring this out:
        “We had a situation with a student at school who was in possession of a gun. More updates later.”
        “A student at school was found with a gun in his possession. The student has been detained. Your kids are safe. More to come.”

        When there is an emergency going on, I want my kids safety handled first then they can let me know. If I thought for a second their first worry was putting communication to me instead of the safety of mine and other children, I’d be the one demanding answers.

        This whole thing, the parents and *cough* adults on FB playing armchair QB are taking this in a blame/retribution direction and it’s frustrating. You clarified in your post about receiving the email yesterday and info from a parent. Based on what I see on FB, it’s easy for me to make an assumption (key word there) that it was one of the parents pissed at Burrows. People want him fired over this, which is why I’m annoyed to all hell about the “adults” behavior. That’s stupid and only feeds the emotion that deals with retribution. As you said, this is not a fireable issue. It’s a learning issue. That just doesn’t seem to be good enough down here though, and that’s stupid and so incredibly self-serving to make those with that mind set to feel.good about only themselves.

        Burrows is a good man and a damned good superintendent. I don’t know what’s in the water down here, but we are fortunate to have him, especially when you consider the othet districts where people aren’t happy. Yes, we can do better with the current state of things, but people just want someone to blame, as that’s easier and more gratifying than the energy it would take to make it better.

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        • I see myself as like Karnak from the Inhumans. Not the horrible one from the terrible tv series, but the real deal from Marvel Comics. I look for the flaws in things. Not to tear things apart, but to make things better. It is always my most fervent hope that mistakes don’t get repeated. It frustrates me to have to post some of the same kind of things over and over again.

          As a parent, I agree with you. My child’s safety comes before notifying me. I saw something about a gun at Middletown High but then someone put an “all-clear” type post up. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Was there a gun? Was there not a gun? Was it just a fight? I didn’t post anything until Burrows posted the parent letter sent out at 4pm. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually a fire. I’ve done the task force thing and quite frankly, unless it is truly a diverse group. the plans are pre-determined by whoever runs these things. At least at the state level. We will never have a perfect school district or a perfect Superintendent. It is impossible.

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  5. Pingback: The Top 18 Most-Read Articles Of 2018 & By The Numbers Recap | Exceptional Delaware

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