A recent incident at a school in Floral Park has parents worried—especially given the horrific shooting at a Florida school last week.
According to parents, a sixth-grader at John Lewis Childs School in the Floral Park-Bellerose School District was removed from class on Friday, Feb. 9, after making violent threats against classmates. Judy Calabrese, a Floral Park mother of three with a student in the class in question, said the student claimed to have a gun and a knife while threatening the lives of students, as well as made threats of self-harm.
School officials sent a letter home to parents regarding the incident—but only to the parents of those students in the class where the threats occurred. In the letter—obtained by the Illustrated News—principal Susan Fazio wrote that “students reported that a child had made verbal comments of a threatening nature in the presence of other students. This was reported to the teacher and the child was immediately removed from the classroom. The child’s parent was contacted and the matter is being handled in accordance with the District’s Code of Conduct.”
The letter goes on to state that, “I [Principal Fazio] want to emphasize that at no time were any children or staff in any danger. There was no weapon or dangerous implement involved; merely inappropriate verbal comments were made by a student. Please be assured—and assure your child—that the safety of our students is our highest priority, and that there was truly no danger in school as a result of this incident.”
The letter also stated that law enforcement was notified and an officer did arrive at the school.
Calabrese said that when she contacted the school for more information, she was told that the child will likely rejoin the class.
“Every child deserves an education, that’s not what this is about,” said Calabrese. “But why weren’t any other parents informed of the incident? The principal and vice principal basically said relax, everything is fine. But I’m not relaxed. The school has been on lockdown many times. And on several occasions the parents are not informed. We get calls all the time about fundraisers and everything else at the school, why not incidents like this?”
In a statement to the Illustrated News, the Floral Park-Bellerose School District said, “The district cannot comment on individual private matters as they are protected by privacy laws. The safety and security of all students and staff is the district’s top priority.”
And according to Calabrese, the recent fatal shootings at a school in Parkland, FL, added another terrifying layer to the story.
“I woke up shaking. What is happening? What is the school doing? What is the plan? This is a public safety issue,” she said. “In all of these school shootings, there is always a history of suspensions and violent threats. It’s scary.”
In a separate statement regarding the mass shooting in Florida, Floral Park-Bellerose Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Dantona said that the district has always had a commitment to the safety and well-being of students and staff.
“I spoke to our police department Wednesday afternoon, and they expressed a commitment to be a presence in and around our schools on Thursday and Friday,” said Dantona. “Our concerns are always focused on the safety of our children. We remain diligent. I express our gratitude to our safety committee members and all those in our schools who keep our children safe every day. Finally, on behalf of the Board of Education and our school community, I express condolences to those, who on Wednesday, suffered unspeakable loss.”
For on the school shooting in Florida, see Local Officials Respond To Latest School Shooting.
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