Son’s death compels mom to speak out
BY STACI WILSON
“I am the mother of Scott David Mead who shot and killed himself 12 days ago,” Kelly Mead said to the Montrose Area School Board Monday night.
She said her son had stood up to support those he knew who were bullied by others. “I failed to teach him it was okay – even important – to stand up for himself.”
Mead, along with about 50 parents, students and members of the community, attended the board meeting where about one and one-half hours were devoted to the subject of bullying.
With a hoarse voice and through tears, Mead read her prepared remarks to the school board.
She said her son was the target of bullying. “I need something good to come out of it. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another kid and their parents. It’s part of my healing process.”
Prior to starting the work session, Board President Chris Caterson asked those attending to observe a moment of silence in honor of Scott Mead, “and all the other young people we’ve lost too soon.”
Caterson set aside the work session agenda and said that everyone present would be allowed to speak.
School guidance counselors and administrators discussed programs and procedures already in place in the district to address bullying, social and academic issues.
But one parent said she spoke with students and former students who said they wouldn’t know where to turn if they had a problem. “What can we do to implement to give these kids a safe place, safe feeling and place to be?” she asked.
One parent said her middle school student has been transformed from a “vibrant sixth grader” to an eighth grader who says he feels like an outcast. “We need to do something to stop this,” she said.
Mead said she has been shown an outpouring of love and support since her son’s death. “I can see family members are not the only ones suffering. Our children are in crisis right now. They are afraid to speak up because help has not come in the past,” she said.
She advocated for swift action and education. “We need to empower them to say: ‘I am different. That’s okay. I’m not going to be bullied anymore.’”
Another audience member said, “Something needs to be done. This affects everybody.”
Acting Superintendent Andrew Falonk said administrators from area school districts planned to meet Tuesday to discuss bringing the Gatekeeper program to county schools. The program was developed at Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia, he said.
The parent of an elementary special needs student asked how the school would deal with a situation in which the student did not realize they were being bullied. “This scares me. They’re quite vulnerable,” she said.
Falonk said that the special education teachers would be able to ascertain an issue with one of their students.
The board was also asked about a former student who offered to bring a program he is involved with “Get Empathy” to the district but was refused.
Principal James Tallarico said the message was not that the school didn’t want him, but the school wanted to find an appropriate time to put a program together for the students.
The school, Tallarico said, is involved in the community’s International Survivors Day program on Nov. 23.
School staff and administrators stressed the importance of reporting bullying or other alarming incidents.
Lathrop Street Elementary Principal Greg Adams said, “There’s not anything we can do if it’s not reported to us. We always follow up, but we need to know about it.”
Caterson said, “We heard your concerns, and there are many. Kelly, you are very brave. You’re a brave woman.”