UPDATE 4:40 p.m.:
At this time, there has been no change in the hostage situation involving a Dale County Schools student. This is a law enforcement issue and is being conducted as such.
Please keep the student, his family, and Mr. Poland’s family in your thoughts and prayers.
Counseling at local schools will be coordinated as soon as the hostage situation is resolved.
Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum released to following statement on the ongoing hostage situation in Dale County.
Yesterday, tragedy struck the Dale County Schools family. Today, we are extending our hearts and prayers for the safe return of one our students and we are mourning a hero, 66 year-old Charles Poland, who gave his life to protect twenty-one students who are now home safely with their families.
Mr. Poland was well-loved by all of us here at Dale County Schools and has been a bus driver for the school system for four years. Prior to his full-time service, he was a substitute bus driver. He was a valuable member of our transportation department, and we will forever remember his for the bravery he showed yesterday.
Now our thoughts and efforts are with our children. Their well-being is our number one concern. The authorities, the Midland City Police Department, the Dale County Sherriff’s Department, ABI, FBI, Homeland Security, and other surrounding city and county agencies, responded immediately to this situation and are doing everything within their powers to see to the safe release of this six year-old Kindergarten student.
We are activating our student support services and have our counselors and volunteer counselors coming in on Friday to help students through their grief, including those who witnessed this terrible tragedy.
Emotions are high, and it’s a struggle for us all to make sense of something so senseless, but let us keep this young student, his family, and Mr. Poland’s family in our thoughts and prayers. We also ask the media to please, during this difficult time, respect the families’ wishes for privacy.
All Dale County Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the week. Due to the closeness of the Ozark City System, they too will remain closed.