Michigan middle-school dean quits after antisemitic death threat

(NewsNation) — The dean of students for a Michigan middle school resigned following an antisemitic death threat made against him and his family.

This was one of three threats that centered around Richmond Community Schools in January alone, according to local media reports.

According to a letter from Richmond Community Schools Superintendent Brian Walmsley, a newly hired dean was specifically targeted in a threat received on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Not counting the holiday break, the now-former dean, who had started on Dec. 13, 2022, had worked in the district for less than nine school days.

For the dean, the position had been “a dream job,” Walmsley said in a letter to parents and guardians dated Jan. 8, 2023.

“As you can imagine, the threat affected (the dean) and his family and permanently changed the way they operate and view the environment around them,” Walmsley wrote. “While (the dean) is going to be missed, I support the decision he made for his family and himself and wish him nothing but health, happiness and success in his future endeavor.”

As of Jan. 19, police had not made any arrests, but there is an active investigation. Calls to the Richmond police chief and Walmsley by NewsNation were not immediately returned Wednesday. But in another letter to families, Walmsley said Richmond Police Chief Tom Costello told the district it would not be a quick investigation — and there’s a possibility the case may not be solved

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WDIV reported that the school went into lockdown, and was closed for the remainder of the week after the death threat was found. School had already been canceled that Tuesday to let new hires organize and prepare for students to return from break.

“The threatening note, security camera footage, and door access digital records have all been turned over to the police,” Walmsley said. “The district will insist the individual or individuals involved with leaving this threatening note 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.”

The former dean of students could not be reached for comment by NewsNation, and declined comment to the Detroit Jewish News.

Steven Ingber, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, said in a statement to the Detroit Jewish News that the incident at Richmond Community Schools is “disturbing and yet another reminder of the prevalence of antisemitism in our society today.”

“As soon as the Jewish Federation was made aware of the situation, we reached out to the school district and conveyed our support for the victim and his family,” Ingber said.

MLive reports that there was a threat made to a second employee as well on Friday, Jan. 6, though it is unclear if that email also contained antisemitic remarks. And according to The Detroit News, a third threat targeting Richmond Community Schools caused the district to close once again on Thursday, Jan. 12.

The day before, the newspaper wrote, the Richmond Middle School principal got a notification from the Michigan OK2SAY safety program that a student would go to campus “with a gun and is not afraid to use it.” Schools were opened on Jan.13, WBIV said, after police determined the threat was not substantiated.

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