NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle Police were called to Jefferson School after a man wearing a "Zorro mask" entered the building and, according to the NRPD scanner, declared "I'm here to protect the children".
The man, known to the school, walked into the school through the main entrance and was stopped by security. He was described by police as "stocky", about 5' 6" and wearing "some kind of zorro mask".
School Security Director Bruce Daniele was called and Daniele called police, according to New Rochelle police.
The response was not consistent with the proposed building-level plans recently promulgated by district officials to cover up the fact that the current plans were adopted by the board and 2001 and have not been updated since.
The Jefferson School Plan (draft/proposed) contains a section on what to do in such an event.
INTRUDER-DANGEROUS PERSON IN AREA—LOCKDOWN/LOCKOUT
An intruder or dangerous person has entered the building Call 911 immediately. Provide as much information as possible about the threat to law enforcement. Notify the Principal’s office. Issue a plain language Lockdown announcement over the PA system: “We are in a lockdown.” Teachers then follow lockdown procedures:
- Pull in any students from hallway, lock doors, turn lights off and move students to a section of the classroom out of line-of-sight of the window in the door.
- Leave window shades to the outside up
- Inform students of lockdown procedures including no use of cell phones or computers and remaining quiet.
- Take student attendance.
Security staff needs to be positioned behind locked doors as well. Staff and students outside at the time of the lockdown must not return to the building, but should immediately proceed to the designated “safe area” away from the school building. Principal or designee notifies Superintendent’s Office. Building remains in lockdown until law enforcement and principal determine that it is safe to resume school activities. Police and school administrators will go to each classroom to issue the “all clear” signal room-by-room (not over the PA system). After the incident is resolved, the Building Safety Team will debrief and consult with the Superintendent’s Office to determine appropriate communication to staff, students, and parents. CIT will be convened and a faculty meeting will be held after the debriefing at the end of the school day, if possible. All media requests will be forwarded to the District Communications & Media Specialist.
911 was not called immediately, no lockdown announcement was made and the school did not go on lockdown. At about the same time, all Mamaroneck schools were on lockdown.
The area around the school was searched and the subject was caught in the Costco parking lot. Police detained the man, interviewed him and released him.
Police said the man said wanted to be a super hero and protect the kids and was asking to volunteer at the school.
UPDATE 1/5/13 5:00 PM
JEFFERSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
131 WEYMAN AVENUE
NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK I 0805
(914) 576-4430; Fax : (914) 576-4631
January 4, 2013
With the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut weighing heavily on everyone's hearts and minds, the City School District ofNew Rochelle is reviewing each school's safety plans and procedures. At Jefferson Elementary School, on a daily basis, we continue to reflect upon and improve our safety practices and procedures. We take every situation seriously and work closely with the District Director of Security and the New Rochelle Police.
There are many rumors and reports with erroneous information regarding an incident that took place on Thursday, January 3, 2013. A young man wearing a mask did enter the building through the main entrance. He was immediately approached by our security officer. He removed his mask and requested to see the principal to discuss volunteer work. The young man appropriately responded to questions . He was asked to leave and quietly went on his way. He did not create a scene or a situation where the school needed to be in lock down or lock out. At no point did he endanger or come near children. To take precautionary measures, Mr. Danielle, the Director of Security and the New Rochelle Police were contacted.
If and when we have emergencies, the school will go into either lock down or lock out and parents will be contacted through automated calls. The district is in the process of developing a plan for all schools to have an electrical buzzer entry at main entrances.
On Thursday, January 10, 2013, the Jefferson PTA will begin their monthly meeting at 3:30 in the auditorium. At 4:00PM, the Jefferson Administration and Members from the Jefferson Safety Team will present safety practices and procedures. Please join us for more detailed information. If you are unable to attend our PTA meeting, we will post our presentation on our website. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (914)576-4430 or my email email@example.com.
As we move forward, we will continue to keep safety a priority at Jefferson.
Similar information was, apparently, provided to News12.
News 12 Reporter Lisa Reyes filed a report on the incident at Hommocks School in Mamaroneck and the Jefferson "Zorro" incident.
The Jefferson letter to parents and the News 12 reporter contained accurate facts, assembled in a way to significantly mislead parents and viewers.
First, although Security Director Bruce Daniele did call New Rochelle Police to report "Zorro" as a "suspicious person" school officials at Jefferson did not.
Second, Daniele reported a "suspicion person". That matters. The newly released building-level security plans have a page which details the response to a "suspicion person" (above). That plan was not followed. Instead, rather than call 911 and put the school on lockdown, as required under the School Safety Plan, the Principal brought the person into her office and met with him before asking him to leave. Daniele was contacted well after "Zorro" entered the school and after he left the building.
Third, although the district did deliver an automated phone message to parents they only did so the following day after parents and staff learned of the incident from Talk of the Sound. The policy is to inform parents immediately.
The simple fact is this classic CYA by the district who, once again, failed to follow their own safety plan.