SPRINGFIELD, NJ – This third article on the Board of Education meeting focuses on what seemed to be the most anticipated topic of the night and that was the December 15 lockdown of the schools.
Superintendent Davino and Police Chief Cook discussed what occurred that day. They then spent the well over half of the meeting responding to comments and questions of the concerned parents that came out of the cold night to get a better to allay some of their concerns, express some of their frustrations and get better informed.
A review of what went on that morning helped set the stage. Early that morning a threatening call was placed to someone senior in the Springfield School system. Their voice mails were reviewed by their secretary upon arrival at work. The call was made close to 4:45 a.m. It was preceded by other calls made during the weekend. By the time the secretary heard the voice mail, it was about 8:25 a.m.
The response to the call was immediate and a lockdown followed shortly thereafter. Not all details of the event can be released because it remains an ongoing police investigation.
Police Chief Cook gave more details on what occurred. They were able to get a phone number and a name from the voice mail. The call came from a Springfield in another state with a school district more than ten times bigger than this one. The person making the call is a 14 year old juvenile with learning disabilities. Records were received to verify his condition.
Superintendent Davino has been in touch with the other Springfield school district, which had a delayed opening that day. Because learning disabilities are involved, the decision was made not to pursue charges and left the matter to the other school district. In NJ, Manifest determination would come in to play and require an evaluation on the student to determine if action was caused by their condition.
When they received the call and the information reviewed, Superintendent Davino indicated the decision was made to go into the lockdown situation and then follow established protocols. Those protocols are practiced in drills that are done with many other agencies including from Union County and Homeland Security. As more and more information became available, Superintendent Davino and Police Chief Cook were increasingly sure there was not a threat but continued with the protocols until they were sure. The lockdown ended just after 10:30 a.m.
Parent questions and concerns focused on the facts, communication and some problems that occurred. Superintendent Davino acknowledged that not everything worked as planned. They are using the lessons learned to improve the process and have already had several meetings with the Police Department on the matter.
Once all questions and concerns were addressed, they moved on to other business.