Talk of the Sound has obtained an internal email from Patricia Lambert, Principal of Barnard Elementary School, to faculty and staff at the school that paints a very different picture of the "Barnard Intruder" incident than what is being communicated to parents of students.
Last month school officials failed to follow security procedures when an unknown person was encountered repeatedly walking around the building and later found hiding in a classroom closet. The school then lied to parents, telling them via robo-calls and letters sent home with students that the man was observed outside the building and left before police arrived. In fact, the man was in the school for 3 to 4 hours and even after the man was found hiding in a closet, Patricia Lamber, the school principal, refused to call police and instead insisting that custodial staff search for the intruder. It was only after the staffers refused to conduct a search that Lambert called the police -- several hours after the intruder was first found walking around the building. The story was first reported by Talk of the Sound.
To better appreciate the deception involved, note the emphasis added to the email and compare it to the second letter sent home to parents about a week after the incident.
To: [List of 142 e-mail addresses redacted]
Date: 10/28/20108:24:32 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subject: Today's occurrence
Dear Faculty & Staff,
Today it was quite unsettling to hear that we had an intruder in the building. We all think of Barnard as our home away from home and what we want to feel first and foremost about being "home, is being safe. Thankfully, nothing harmful resulted as a consequence of this intrusion however; it behooves us to use this as an opportunity to rethink our safety measures.
Let's begin by recognizing that with only one security person assigned to Barnard, we all must pitch in to keep Barnard safe. We've started by wearing our Barnard tags so that others recognize that we are the ones that children can turn towards in times of need. (If there is anyone who has not received one, please see me.) We've also asked that ALL visitors wear a Visitors Sticker to help us to recognize that this person has signed in and has permission to be in the building. If ever you see someone that you don't recognize without a Visitors Sticker, cordially ask if they've signed in and picked up a sticker from the security desk and then direct them to please do so. You can also IMMEDIATELY call the Main Office and inform them of the location where you've seen a person without a sticker. You should also consider locking your door when you leave your room unattended. This will assure that no one can enter your room unknowingly. We must remember to be vigilant in making sure that doors that we enter and exit are securely closed behind us. The convenience of keeping doors ajar so that we can re-enter easily really must stop. We don't want to jeopardize the safety of others for our own personal convenience.
Finally, while we are fortunate to be able to call what happened today an atypical event, we've come to the realization that we are always a part of what's happening in the world around us.
Thank you all for your professionalism and cooperation during today's occurrence. Our collective goal is to keep the children and one another safe.
Let's continue to talk about ways that we can increase the safety at Barnard.
Patricia Lambert, Principal
Compare that e-mail to the letter sent home with students by Principal Lambert (she added the emphasis in this letter).
November 2, 2010
As we at Barnard continue to work on keeping all children. safe, I ask that you review the procedures for adults in the building. Some of the procedures have been revised as a result of our recent incident. I am sure that you will work to adhere to this policy on behalf of all of the children at Barnard. Please know that you are always welcome at Barnard however I ask that you model safe behavior for your children. Please contact me if you have any questions.
- When entering Barnard please sign in AND sign out at the Security Desk and get a Visitors pass and go directly to the location that you have arranged to visit. You may be asked to show photo I.D.
- K-2 students are to walk to their classroom on their own. Parents should not accompany children to the rooms. Teachers have explained to children how to do so and school personnel is (sic) available on each floor to guide students in need assistance. This encourages student independence and reduces the number of adults lingering around. Please call me if you have a reason that your child needs individual assistance.
- Parents are not to wander around in the corridors. This prevents us from being able to quickly identify any adult who is not to be in the building. Teachers are not expected to hold brief discussions with you when they are supervising and instructing the children. Arrange an appropriate time to speak to your child's teacher.
- Adults are not allowed in the children's bathrooms. There are restrooms for adults next to the auditorium.
- It is crucial that we be able to monitor who comes in to pick up children. If you are sending someone else other then your self to pick up your child, please inform the person that they should have I.D. Once you pick up your child, please do not congregate in the lobby, Feel free to continue your conversations outdoors.
Again, we are striving to maximize security and minimize unsettling incidents. When children are being brought to and from school, adults are not wearing anything that can identity them. It is a vulnerable time and your adhering (sic) to these procedures will assist us in maintaining a safe and orderly school environment.
Thank you for your support and cooperation.
The letter to parents focuses on adults in the children's bathroom which is consistent with what Lambert told the police but not consistent with multiple sources who have confirmed to Talk of the Sound -- that the intruder was found hiding in a closet in a classroom. The letter dwells on parents picking up and dropping off students at the beginning and end of the day and signing in and out at the front desk. Sources tell Talk of the Sound the intruder entered the building through an open side door during the middle of the school day not during drop off/pick up times. The letter to school staff does address exterior doors being left open.
There is no mention of the Lockdown/Lockout procedures which were made a requirement by the State of New York following the Columbine massacre. The district is required to have a written plan for each building and follow it when triggering events occur and to hold practice drills. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that the school was not put on lockdown/lockout. Principal Lambert told Talk of the Sound the building was put on lockdown. The same sources tell Talk of the Sound that the school has not been practicing lock down/lock down drills as required.
Talk of the Sound is still hoping to obtain a copy of the original letter sent home to parents which stated that the "intruder" was observed outside the building (not inside as stated on the NRPD incident report). Also, a copy of the robo-call from the school.