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Anonymous letter sparks response from Prescott officials

An anonymous letter sent to the community criticizes the Prescott School District and city for its handling of an October incident at Prescott Middle School. The letter is not endorsed by the Prescott Chamber, as is represented in its content. File photo

An anonymous letter sent out to some Prescott residents questions the Prescott School District's safety.

The letter received by some Prescott Chamber of Commerce members called for people to attend the Prescott City Council and Prescott School Board meetings to speak out against the perceived lack of response to an October incident at the middle school.

In October, a shooting threat was reported after a girl's volleyball game. The incident was investigated by the Prescott Police Department and it was determined that it was safe for students to go to school.

The anonymous letter asked people "to join other Prescott Chamber of Commerce members with your voice;" however, Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Johnson said she wanted to make clear this letter did not come from the Chamber.

"The Prescott Chamber would like to make it clear that the letter did not come from the Chamber office and does not reflect the opinions of our board members," Johnson said. "We believe the Prescott School District and the City of Prescott value the importance of every child's safety. We trust that they have taken and continue to take the proper steps to insure the safety of all students and faculty of the Prescott School System. We fully support and appreciate the attention they give this issue each and every day."

Char Magee, a Prescott resident and Chamber member, addressed the March 12 Prescott City Council meeting about the letter. She said she was speaking on behalf of the Chamber and had concerns about the letter because "my biggest issue is them using the chamber."

Magee went on to say that whoever sent the letter was using the Chamber to "cause a big stir." The letter also calls attention to Prescott School District Superintendent Rick Spicuzza not living in Prescott by saying "There has been almost no response by our Mayor or Superintendent (about the October scare). We put them in power to protect our families in Prescott. Spicuzza doesn't even live here and drives home to Woodbury every night. Is it not safe here Dr. Spicuzza?"

Magee said when Spicuzza was hired it was known that he lived in Woodbury; it wasn't an issue when he was hired and shouldn't be an issue now. She said the mayor and superintendent have the support of the Chamber.

Spicuzza said he welcomes direct interaction with anyone who wants to discuss the matter of school safety or other issues.

"Both the Mayor and I spoke earlier today regarding an anonymous, unsigned letter that misrepresents the shared beliefs and values of the Prescott community and organizations named," Spiccuza said in an email March 9. "Our preference as leaders of the organizations mentioned is to interact directly with individuals who have concerns or are impacted directly. We both pride ourselves on being accessible to the public and are available regularly via public meetings if and when individuals have concerns."

Spicuzza goes on to say in the email that incidents involving school safety are handled by a joint effort to make sure students are safe.

"The Mayor and I know these jobs come with critics but are equally proud of the collaborative efforts that are taken each year between our police department and school staff," Spicuzza said in the email. "On a local level anytime student or staff safety is a concern the police department has addressed the concerns swiftly, competently, and in a timely manner."

Prescott Mayor David Hovel spoke at the March 12 meeting and said the incident in October was dealt with at that time and included cooperation between everyone. Hovel added that the safety of students is not only the responsibility of the school, Prescott City Council and police department but of everyone in the community. He said the October incident was dealt with immediately because someone came forward with what they had heard and he said everyone needs to keep their "eyes and ears open."

"They [school district and police department] took care of it [October] incident well," Hovel said. "The community needs to work together on it."

School safety is always the number one priority, Spicuzza said.

"Our primary focus from the first bus pick-up to when the last student is dropped off is always about student safety," Spicuzza said. "Annually and throughout the year we review our safety plans. As an organization, we continuously refine our emergency response plans as our context shifts or new information becomes available. We strive to embrace a continuous improvement model in everything we do here in the Prescott School District."