Vermont Education Commissioner Asks Students to Look for Signs of Trouble

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(Host) In the wake of the deadly shootings at a Minnesota High School, Vermont’s Education Commissioner has written an open letter to students asking them to be on the lookout for signs of trouble.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Education Commissioner Richard Cate begins his letter to Vermont students by mentioning the school shootings in Red Lake, Minnesota and Littleton, Colorado. Cate says those and other incidents point out that it’s impossible to say it can’t happen here.

(Cate) “I think we in Vermont can never have the luxury of being able to say that because, in fact, where the worst incidents have occurred have been in places that don’t look all that different from Vermont.”

(Zind) Cate says he was also motivated to write the letter because of several recent incidents in which Vermont students have brought guns to school. He asks students tell adults if they see self-destructive or violent tendencies in a classmate. Cate says sometimes students are reluctant to step forward because of peer-pressure but in most cases where violence in schools has been averted, it’s been because of information provided by students.

(Cate) “It’s very tough for adults to get into that loop as well as fellow students. It clearly is students that have been successful in helping to avert even more incidents.”

(Zind) The state requires schools to have emergency plans in place to deal with incidents involving weapons. Last week Windsor High School’s plan received its first real test when a fifteen-year-old student was arrested for allegedly plotting to kill her parents. The incident resulted in an hour-long lock down of school grounds.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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