MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A middle school principal in the east metro died Thursday, according to the South Washington County School District.
Joe Slavin, 45, was principal at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale. He also served as a school board member in South Washington County Schools.
Woodbury Police say Slavin was found in Carver Lake Park Wednesday in his car at around 8:30 a.m. They say preliminary reports from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner show he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Deep shock and sadness when we heard the news about Joe Slavin passing away,” school district 622 superintendent Christine Osorio said. “The first priority is to put supports in place — counselors, social workers, students and staff who might be grieving — but also to try to keep some normalcy to our last days of school as well.”
In a statement, the district said Slavin’s death was unexpected and tragic. Additionally, they said they plan to provide support to students and staff at school Thursday.
The district did not say how Slavin died.
However, Woodbury Police reported Thursday evening that they are investigating after a man in his mid-40s was found dead at Carver Lake Park.
In an email to students and families, the school district offered a few suggestions on how to talk to children about death:
Give your child simple and truthful information: Children are bright and sensitive. Your child needs accurate and ample information; otherwise, they will use their imagination to complete the story. Many times this is more frightening, or can create more anxiety than telling the truth. Allow your child to guide you and trust their limits for information or when they need more details. Loss and death are part of the natural cycle of life and you can help your child learn and cope during this difficult time.
Reassure your child that their own family is safe: Learning about a person’s death may bring about fears of their own health or that of their parents or siblings. Reassure your child that most illnesses can be cured with medicine and care.
Encourage your child to talk about their worries with you or other caring adults: Let your child know that you or other supports are available. This is a difficult time but, you are creating a foundation for your child and how they seek help during other stressful experiences.
Help your child find an action step they can do to help. Your child may want to do something active to help the family or friends of the person who died. Help them send a card, write down memories, or otherwise reach out if they want to help others.
Those concerned about a loved one at risk for suicide can learn what to do at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.