New Rochelle High School Threatened for Third Time But No Evacuation

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle High School received another violent threat on Tuesday, for the third time in two weeks, school district officials have confirmed to Talk of the Sound.

The caller said "people are going to die", according to one knowledgeable source.

This time, however, school officials chose not to follow their own school safety plan protocol which requires an evacuation of the school.

Under the plan, the school building is evacuated and classes discontinued while police close off street access to the area and conduct a room-by-room search.

The district has struggled with its building-level safety plan at the high school for the past decade. For many years there was no board-approved plan as required under the New York SAVE Act, signed into law after the Columbine massacre in 2000.

Tuesday's incident was the fifth evacuation-level incident in 2013.

The first incident, in January, was an electrical fire which released high levels of carbon monoxide into the school. Two wheel-chair bound students were not evacuated leading to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The second incident, in June, was another electrical fire which released high levels of carbon monoxide into the school. An explosion sent flames shooting out of a manhole just 50 feet from a school auditorium where students had been moved just moments before.

The third and fourth incidents were the two phone threats, made on November 20th and December 2nd.

Senior level school officials met with New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll yesterday afternoon. School officials asked that the police department take responsibility for decisions to evacuate New Rochelle schools. Carroll refused, sources say.

School district and police sources that spoke to Talk of the Sound on background, agreed that the person calling in the threats is engaged in attention-seeking behavior and that further evacuations would only serve to indulge the person's desire for attention. The consensus is that all three incidents involved the same caller.

The district's safety plan does not account for multiple-threats over multiple days. Each threat is treated as an isolated incident requiring evacuation each time.

Developing...

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John D'Alois on Thu, 12/05/2013 - 01:55

How thin is the line when predicting future behavior? Suddenly someone wakes up and decides to threaten a group of people over the course of a week or two (assuming it's the same person). If it's for attention, how does the fact that no one will know who it is unless/until they are caught satisfy this need? What happens when the satisfaction of evacuating the school is removed from the equation? Do they become incensed from being ignored and up the stakes? Prankster, antisocial personality disorder, psychopath, where on the spectrum does this behavior land and who is actually doing the evaluation of this individual? A callous and persistent disregard for social norms and rules shouldn't be taken lightly when we're putting a student body on the betting table. Plus, every time our first responders rush to a situation there's a risk factor.
Certainly I'm glad the decision isn't up to me, however, I like to think I would follow a safety protocol and not bend the rule for convenience or whatever the thought process seems to be in this situation. Follow the plan because at some point the "prankster " will be caught or he/she will stop. The other potential scenario's aren't worth the risk. Which member of the school board wants to face the parent and explain that "we thought it was a prank"

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Thu, 12/05/2013 - 13:36

The answer to your question: "Which member of the school board wants to face the parent and explain that "we thought it was a prank""

Not that he wants something bad to happen but he is the one orchestrating all of this -- as is almost always the case with this sort of thing.

Not only did Mr. Lacher decide to NOT to evacuate the school and not to tell parents and staff about that decision but now I am hearing that fellow board members were not told either

My son is at NRHS. I am certain I did not put Mr. Lacher in charge of deciding what sort of risks my child should be exposed to because he does not like unflattering news coverage

What is being circulated now by the school district as an excuse is that they were only doing what they were told by the "experts" at NRPD.

Absurd!

Anyone familiar with the disdain that the district has shown towards NRPD (and believe it is well-known about our police department) over the years can only laugh at the notion that all of sudden the school district is placing security decisions in the hands of the NRPD.

First, the safety plans do not say "in case of emergency, call NRPD and ask them what to do".

Second, my NRPD sources tell me that they WERE asked by school officials to take over the responsibility for deciding when to evacuate the schools and FLATLY REFUSED.

What is really going on here is that the district does not want to keep evacuating the schools AND they do not want to be responsible for that so they are seeking to lay the blame on someone else...in this case, NRPD.

Readers may recall that Patrick Carroll proposed earlier this year in an interview I did with him that NRPD take over ALL security for the schools and that was dismissed out of hand by school officials.

It irks me that this is the same district that for many years had NO safety plans and then post-Sandy Hook went to great lengths to put on a show about hiring a security consulting firm and even posting their supposedly-confidential building-level safety plan on their web site (lunacy!) to show people what a great job they were doing then made a big show of appointing people to safety committees and adopting plans and hiring a new safety person (Ellen Garcia for about $70,000; in other words firing a teacher but hiring her).

So all that dog and pony show goes on all spring and what do we get?

Within about 4 months Lacher becomes President of the Board of Education, starts big-footing everyone and effectively makes the protocols and procedures OPTIONAL.

You see my point on that?

The whole point of a safety plan and training on that plan is that it becomes a ROTE PROCEDURE where everyone knows what to do.

Now there is DOUBT.

The next incident confronting a building leader in NR will now require that person to ponder...should I pull the fire alarm? should I call the police? maybe I should call central office? Maybe I should call the Police Commissioner? What will David Lacher say if I pull the alarm and it turns out to be a prank. Maybe I should wait.

The clock is ticking.

Adam Lanza killed 26 people in about 10 minutes at Sandy Hook.

If the district was FINALLY motivated to put in place safety teams and security plans because of Sandy Hook then surely they understand that every minute matters.

Ken Lewis on Thu, 12/05/2013 - 15:14
Title: NSA knows...

NSA knows when you pick your nose and talk on the phone and NRPD cannot determine where these phone calls are coming from.
One would think in this day and age NRPD detectives would have been all over the call the first time the school was evacuated.

Teresa Lopez on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 20:46

As this has now happened for a third time, I would hope that our local authorities and the school system have alerted the FBI and/or Homeland Security to investigate what amount to terroristic threats against our high school (this should have happened after the 2nd event). A strong message needs to be sent that these threats, which are now being treated as pranks by an "attention seeking individual", will not be tolerated.

The flaw with treating this as a prank (after the third call) is that it gives a recipe for disaster to someone who may really want to cause harm. For example, a person calls in two threats that they know are false, with the intention of causing harm on the third since they think the school won't take it seriously after repeated attempts.

I'm not saying the school is incorrect for not evacuating again if they have evidence to believe its the same person (school days have already been severely interrupted). However, a message needs to be delivered to the public that these threats will not be tolerated and the investigation along with severe consequences for committing this act should be made absolutely clear.

We hope someone from the school district will detail the steps being taken to discourage this type of behavior.

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