Petition demands investigation into MCPS months after teen murder-suicide

10 News sat down with Superintendent Bernard Bragen Wednesday

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A community still hurting, months after tragedy.

”I can’t imagine what those families are going through. I really can’t. I’m a father with three daughters, and those families are forever changed. There will be an empty seat at the table, forever,” Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard Bragen said.

A petition is circulating social media with over 1,000 signatures, requesting an independent investigation into Montgomery County Public Schools.

This comes after the murder-suicide of students Serenity Hawley and Croney Monk.

‘To know she is gone is just unreal’: Parents of victim in Blacksburg apparent murder-suicide speak out

10 News sat down with Bragen to discuss policies and transparency in the schools.

”If there was something I could do to bring them back of course I would do it, I think we all would. And that’s where this comes from, this comes from the community coming together and saying, ‘What can we do to make this better?’ and maybe ensure something doesn’t happen again. And we’re committed to that,” Bragen said.

Bragen said the petition was not brought to him directly.

”As you can see here, my doors are always open. I would love to meet with them. If there’s something they think we need to do, we’ll do it,” he said.

The petition says it is about preventing tragedies like this in the future – something Bragen says they’re working towards, especially when it comes to dating violence.

”We’re actually partnering with a professor at Virginia Tech who’s going to come in and give some training on signs and symptoms to our administrators and we’ll see where it goes,” he said.

But the murder-suicide took place outside of school, which Bragen said is beyond the division’s control.

”There are some things that happen outside of school that as a school division we just can’t control. I wish I could. I’m not sure if there was anything done or not done or something that could have been done differently that would have changed the outcome,” he said.

Bragan said he doesn’t think the division could have done anything to prevent the deaths and is not keeping information from the public.

”I feel bad if people feel that way. I am not aware of any information that was not shared deliberately or anything in that regard,” he said.

We reached out to the creator of the petition, and are working on scheduling an interview.

Serenity’s parents issued a statement that read, “We are supportive of the petition and look forward to seeing the results. We are very appreciative to everyone for the support.”

Find the petition here.

Resources for children and young adults dealing with feelings of grief can be found below:

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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