Good Morning, Board of Education members and Central Office Staff:
My name is Ryan Miner.
My wife and I are proud Montgomery County Public Schools parents.
Our 16-year-old daughter is a sophomore at Wootton High School, and our son is a University of Maryland College Park freshman and a 2022 Wotton High School graduate.
Kimberly (my wife) and I are active in our daughter’s school and extra-curricular activities. We’re very much part of our school community.
We are grateful for the world-class education Montgomery County Public Schools teachers, administrators, coaches, and school support staff provide.
I write to you this morning to express my deep concerns over Melissa Ladd, a Montgomery County Public Schools substitute teacher.
It is our impression that Melissa Ladd is a Maryland community leader and political activist who uses her online platform (social media) to target, bully, harass, intimidate, and emotionally harm those she perceives as political foes.
We urge the Board and central office staff to review Melissa Ladd’s Twitter account @GunSenseMelissa to observe her harmful, destructive, and often unfair and disgusting attacks.
Of course, Ms. Ladd is entitled to her opinions, though Kimberly and I are deeply concerned by her online social media behavior.
Montgomery County Public Schools approaches online bullying seriously; MCPS takes a zero-tolerance stance, as we understand.
We are concerned that Ms. Ladd’s online bullying may extend into Montgomery County Public Schools classrooms.
If Melissa Ladd had our daughter in a class she was assigned to substitute teach, would she treat our daughter fairly?
We don’t know.
We also cannot figure out why we’re the targets of Melissa Ladd’s sustained online harassment campaign.
Please keep in mind that Kimberly and I have never met Melissa Ladd.
We’ve never held a single in-person conversation with Melissa Ladd.
We haven’t mentioned Melissa Ladd’s name outside of our home, and we have no previous history with her.
We’re left to question whether Melissa Ladd operates from a position of stability when using her Twitter account.
After all, she egregiously targets, harasses, intimidates, and bullies members of our community – total strangers like us.
Montgomery County Public Schools, I can imagine, would frown upon any behavior that it perceives as online bullying, intimidation, and harassment.
I want to share a recent anecdote that has irreparably altered my family’s lives.
In June 2020, my wife received a phone call from our son’s longtime childhood best friend’s father, sharing the worst news a parent could ever receive: His son, an MCPS student, had taken his life.
Inexplicably, a 17-year-old high school student took his own life.
Why did this happen?
We’ll never understand why our son’s friend took his life.
This aching pain is forever; it will never subside.
The pain of losing a friend at such a young age will forever haunt our son and leave us with an aching emptiness for the rest of our lives.
Many of you copied to this thread are parents.
We all know that there’s no greater pain than the pain of seeing our children in distress.
However, Kimberly and I know this: Our son’s best friend was bullied online, and maybe it was too late for us or anyone else to protect him or stop the bullying.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
We’ll never arrive at a definitive conclusion about why our son’s best friend took his own life or even come close to grasping the reasons.
Still, at least we can minimally understand some form of an impetus behind why our son’s best friend felt like he had no other way to manage his pain.
While the grief still lingers, my wife, Kimberly, has channeled the pain of losing our son’s best friend into activism.
Since our son’s best friend’s death, Kimberly has taken on a leadership volunteer role with the Devon C. Rubenstein Foundation to prevent teenage suicide.
I couldn’t be prouder of her.
I am obligated to share that I operate an infinitesimally small public platform where I write about Maryland politics and news.
I am not immune to public criticism; I accept the consequences of the things I have written and published on my platform.
But we cannot accept Montgomery County Public Schools substitute teacher – Melissa Ladd – using her platform to intentionally harm, bully, intimidate, target and harass those with whom she disagrees.
You should also know that I’ve lived an imperfect life.
There are things that I’ve done in my life that I’d never want my children to replicate, much less discover.
I made mistakes in my late teens and early 20s that Melissa Ladd has weaponized and used to target me personally and professionally.
Is this the caliber of a person you want teaching in your school system – somebody who apparently believes that human beings are incapable of authentic change and growth?
Is Melissa Ladd the only person who has never made a mistake and lived a perfect life?
Kimberly and I wonder how Melissa Ladd conducts herself when MCPS students make mistakes in a classroom.
Would Melissa Ladd rush to Twitter to promulgate her students’ worst moments?
Would Melissa Ladd tweet shame her students?
Would she ever go so far as to embarrass her students intentionally?
We certainly hope not.
But her online behavior says otherwise.
Melissa Ladd has taken my worst life moments and used them as a political weapon.
I can’t understand it.
I’m 37 years old now.
It’s fair to say that I’m not the same person I was when I was 19, 21, or 27.
I’ve been given grace many times – probably far too often than I should have.
I’ve taken that grace that I was given and worked to overcome my personal failings and past mistakes, and I’ve done my best to become a better husband, father, friend, and professional.
I’m still working on myself – but I want my children to know that we’re all a work in progress, that none of us are perfect, and that it’s okay to fail and to make mistakes.
I want my kids to know that somebody like Melissa Ladd, a textbook bully, won’t hurt them like she’s hurt so many others.
I hope Melissa Ladd wouldn’t use her Twitter account to publicly embarrass my children or other teenagers when they suffer from personal failings, as I have.
I know that I don’t need Melissa Ladd’s grace or acceptance – and I don’t care whether or not she accepts me for who I am today, the person I’ve grown into.
But we do care that Melissa Ladd has access to and influence over young women and men in our public schools.
I also write to each to each of you from the perspective of someone who experiences the immediate effects of clinical depression and severe anxiety.
My daily struggles are sometimes so overwhelming.
That dark cloud returns whenever someone shares Melissa Ladd’s hateful tweets directed at me (or my wife).
I have to wonder why Melissa Ladd is so obsessed with harming total strangers. What does she gain from being a bully on social media?
Melissa Ladd’s sustained and targeted campaign is emotionally draining for my family and me.
We have to consider taking legal action against Melissa Ladd to halt her online harassment. I don’t want to do this. This is the last thing I want to do right now with my time.
Though I can manage, and I can cope.
But what about a 17-year-old high school student?
What if they’re bullied online?
Could they cope?
Could they manage their pain?
We know – and now each of you knows – someone who couldn’t.
Kimberly and I urge our Montgomery County Board of Education to take our concerns about Melissa Ladd seriously.
Her behavior is unacceptable and does not represent the best of Montgomery County Public Schools.
We want Melissa Ladd to stop harassing us.
We want Melissa Ladd to stop lying about us.
We want Melissa Ladd to leave us alone.
Thank you for your time.
Please feel free to reach out to me at (301) 991-4220 if you have any questions.
All the best,
Ryan Miner, MBA