MIDDLEBURY, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned Middlebury Community Schools officials sent two sheriff’s deputies to the home of a parent at 10:30pm after the parent posted a comment on Facebook disagreeing with the district’s mandatory masking policy. RNM has received security camera footage of the encounter and audio of the call. All of which are posted below.
In the dispatch audio provided by the Elkhart County Dispatch Center, Middlebury Community Schools Student Resource Officer, Gary Smith, calls in requesting deputies visit the parent that night. His call comes through at 9:58pm on September 8th. Smith is one of three members of Middlebury Community Schools’ independent police force.
“Hey, um, I need to have a welfare check done on a subject, um, it’s, it’s, a parent who has posted stuff on Facebook and now it’s actually gotten to the point where it’s almost threatening. Because he’s talking about this whole facemask mandate and all this and he’s in an uproar about it. But, he’s talking about certain staff members that are basically going along with it, and, that, he may, that, he said something to the effect he may need to pluck them in quotation marks.” Smith said. Audio of the entire call can be heard below. A transcript can be found at the bottom of the story.
Security camera footage from the parent’s home shows officers knocking on his door at 10:22pm.
According to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office, the department did not open an investigation into the incident, meaning the call went no further than the visit from the deputies on the evening of September 8th.
The Facebook post in question involves the parent discussing teachers who agree with him on not having a mask mandate. He uses the term “pluck” to describe starting an alternative schooling system in which parents may want to hire likeminded teachers, plucking them from the public school system. The post can be seen below.
Since the incident, the parent who wished not to be named, pulled both of his children out of the Middlebury Community Schools system. The parent sent RNM the following statement.
“On the night of September 8, two Elkhart County police officers visited our private residence at approximately 10:30 PM. They were requested by Middlebury Community Schools to investigate a Facebook post in which I had mentioned “plucking” teachers from the school district to work elsewhere. A school employee had apparently decided to contort the meaning of “pluck” to mean “kill” and submit it for investigation as a means of harassment and intimidation. The officers were very considerate and kind and seemed to be almost sheepish about visiting my family concerning this request.
Needless to say, my children were very upset. My adolescent daughter had nightmares over the next several nights about our house being attacked and bombed. She also feared returning to the school over concerns of harassment from the staff and faculty. I, myself, spent most of that night awake in anticipation of what might happen next. This ultimately led to a final decision for us to withdraw both of our children from the Middlebury Community School system.
We have reached out to the school staff up to and including the Superintendent with no cooperation in resolving this matter. They continue to display ignorance of any school involvement.”
RNM sent Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jayson Snyder and SRO Gary Smith the following questions via email. As of publication, we have not received a response.
Why was an SRO making a call like this at nearly 10:00pm? Who, if anyone, informed Officer Smith of this Facebook post? Who, if anyone, directed Officer Smith to pass this along to the Sheriff’s Office? Is it appropriate to be sending armed law enforcement officers to the home of a parent and students at 10:30pm? Is it standard for an SRO to be making calls like this at 10:00pm? How often do calls like this happen?
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TRANSCRIPT FROM CALL
Smith: “Hey, this is 1102.”
Smith: “Hey, um, I need to have a welfare check done on a subject, um, it’s, it’s, a parent who has posted stuff on Facebook and now it’s actually gotten to the point where it’s almost threatening. Because he’s talking about this whole facemask mandate and all this and he’s in an uproar about it. But, he’s talking about certain staff members that are basically going along with it, and, that, he may, that, he said something to the effect he may need to pluck them in quotation marks.”
Dispatcher: “To what?”
Smith: “I talked talked with… to pluck them.”
Dispatcher: “Pluck them?”
Smith: “Yep. And, I’ve already talked with Jeremy Shotts (another school resource officer) and we’re concerned on his language. What are his intentions? So, we just want to get this started tonight even. Just send an officer out to their address and talk with them and see what is going on and so. It’s just gotten really crazy over here with the whole mask mandate, so.”
Dispatcher: “Okay, what’s the address?”
Smith: (Gives address)
Dispatcher: “What’s the parent’s name?”
Smith: (Gives name)
Dispatcher: “Alright, you want the to call you back with findings?”
Smith: “Yeah, whoever, yeah whoever goes out there. Can you just give them my cell number? And, just tell them I need a call back tonight, so.”
Dispatcher: “Alright, um, your phone number is (redacted)?
Smith: “Yes it is.”
Dispatcher: “Alright. I will have them, I’ll have them check it out.”
Smith: “Okay, thank you.”