Death threat against staff member’s family closes district for a full week

Richmond Community Schools in Michigan shut down after a threatening note was discovered just as staff returned from winter break.

A note containing a death threat against a staff member and their family has closed Richmond Community Schools in Michigan for the entire week.

Superintendent Brian J. Walmsley had previously decided to close the rural, three-school district north of Detroit to students on Tuesday—the first day after winter break—due to staff shortages. Staff members, including a slate of new hires, were expected to be in the buildings to prepare lessons and organize their classrooms, among other tasks. Administrators had also intended to contact substitute teachers to fill the remaining vacancies.

The threatening note, however, was discovered early Tuesday, forcing Richmond Community Schools into immediate lockdown as police launched an investigation. “The ‘death threat’ note not only threatened the safety of an employee, but their spouse and children, and included personal information,” Walmsley wrote in a message to the community that also described his team’s efforts to fill staff vacancies.

The threatening note, security camera footage, and digital door access records have been turned over to the police. Because the threat “has not yet been resolved,” the Richmond Community Schools will now remain closed until Monday. Administrators will demand that the individual or individuals involved with the threat be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“This is beyond comprehension that someone would threaten the safety of an employee and their family,” Walmsley concluded. “Parents and guardians, please talk to your children regarding threats made and the legal implications of making threats.”

No arrest had been made as of Thursday morning.

As for Richmond Community Schools’ staff shortages, Walmsley noted that he and his team had spent some of the winter break interviewing and processing new hires in preparation for students’ return. “Some Richmond staff have chosen to fill vacancies in other districts resulting in new vacancies in our district,” he said in his community message.

On Facebook, Walmsley’s message sparked strong reactions about safety, staff shortages, and school climate in the district.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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