September 8, 2023

Dear DeKalb County School District Community,

I am deeply saddened to write to you for the second time this week, bearing the troubling news of another devastating loss within our school community. Earlier, we mourned the untimely passing of three Lakeside High School students because of a tragic automobile accident. Now, we face the loss of a young Rock Chapel Elementary student due to an incident involving an unsecured weapon.

These losses strike at the very core of our shared humanity, and it is only natural to feel an overwhelming sense of grief. As a District, we continue to offer our wholehearted condolences and dedicated support to the families and friends of those who have been taken from us far too soon. As a father, I continue to hold them in my thoughts and prayers, hoping that healing can somehow arise amidst these unimaginable tragedies.

A Korean proverb speaks to moments like these: “When a child dies, you bury the child in your heart forever.” The students lost this week will always be a part of the rich history of the DeKalb County School District. Through our unity and resilience, we will find ways to honor the memory of these precious lost souls, ensuring that their legacy lives on in the strength we draw from each other.

To the students and staff of Rock Chapel Elementary and Lakeside High Schools, please know that we continue to be here for you. Grief is an intensely personal journey, and we are committed to providing the support necessary for your healing. Throughout this week, grief specialists have been tirelessly and courageously assisting with counseling and support services, which will continue for as long as needed.

The DeKalb County School District is an interconnected community of 92,000 students, 14,000 employees, countless family members, and stakeholders. We mourn when tragedy strikes because we are a community characterized by sincere empathy and benevolence. Together, we honor the loved ones lost by offering our genuine sympathies, unwavering support, and compassionate guidance.

I encourage you to let those you love know how you feel about them often. I know I will.

With profound sympathies and unwavering support,

Dr. Devon Q. Horton, Superintendent
DeKalb County School District