NJ schools tighten security following online threats
MAHWAH — Parents are on edge about a threat made against the Ramapo Ridge Middle School for this coming Friday.
Those parents say they weren't directly told about the threat when it was first made in October, as many districts continue to review and change their security policies following the Florida high school shooting that left 17 dead.
A letter was sent to Mahwah parents on Friday afternoon, at the start of a long holiday weekend, about a threat made to shoot up the middle school on Friday, Feb. 23, according to PIX 11. The eighth grade student who made the threat was investigated and the student was removed from the school.
Mahwah Mayor William Laforet said in a message on his Facebook page that he was not aware of the threat until Friday. He has instructed police and the school superintendent to immediately notify him and the township council of any future threats. He also ordered an armed, uniformed police officer to be stationed at each of the district's schools when classes are in session.
"The presence of an armed, uniformed patrol officer in a marked police car at each of the schools will act as a deterrent and provide immediate response time should a threat be made against any school facility. In the interim, this will result in additional police overtime costs being incurred, but so be it. Our residents, students, and District personnel deserve to be safe when attending the Township schools," Laforet wrote.
The Mahwah threat is the latest in a long list of schools that had threats made against them via social media since Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nutley canceled classes, while Jackson, Monroe (Middlesex County), the Eastern High School district in Voorhees, Old Bridge, East Brunswick, and the Matawan-Aberdeen district all had threats that were found to not be credible.
Despite the assurances of Jackson Police finding no credible threat last Friday, attendance was down district-wide, according to spokeswoman Allison Erwin.
Edison Board of Education president Jerry Shi called for a complete review of district security measures in a message on the district website.
"It is our responsibility to ensure a safe school environment for our district’s children. While the Board of Education has invested in school security, the events of last week remind us that we must be constantly vigilant," Shi wrote. He said the matter will further addressed at the Board's scheduled meeting on Wednesday.
Armed police will be added to the security detail already in place at East Brunswick public schools following the arrest of a student for making an online terroristic threat, according to superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski.
"It is the Board of Education and Superintendent’s commitment to take all necessary measures to insure that our students, staff, and visitors remain safe and secure in our schools," Valeski wrote on the district website.
Voorhees Police arrested resident Jacob Finkelstein, 18, for threatening to shoot up Eastern Regional High School. A Matawan-Aberdeen Regional District student was also taken into custody for making terroristic threats against a school.
The string of threats may subside, as schools were closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday, and many will be closed for the whole week.