Delivered to 15,000 Plainfield "doorsteps" Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clinton School gun incident: Superintendent's, Principal's letters

Letters from Interim Superintendent Peter Carter and Clinton School Principal Christy Oliver-Hawley were distributed after the gun incident Tuesday morning at the Clinton Avenue school. The superintendent's letter is on the district's website (here, PDF format). I do not find the principal's letter on the district website.

Since both are referenced in news reports, I am reprinting them in full below, along with links at the bottom of the page to the media stories.

November 28, 2007

My dear Plainfield Community,

Little did I know that you will be reading a letter of mine twice within five days, but the reality of yesterday has forced an early letter. Worry not! Monday’s letter shall still appear.

So to yesterday! A young boy, about nine years of age, a fourth grader, made a mistake. Indeed it was a most serious and grave mistake, and we shall be dealing with it as such. As of the writing of this letter what motivated this young lad to place a loaded 9mm handgun in his backpack and bring it to school is unclear and unknown to me, but we shall certainly know soon. What is certain is that a quick acting grandma, upon hearing of the situation from a classmate of the student, took the best action she knew how to take. She removed the weapon from her grandson’s backpack, left the Clinton School and went directly to Plainfield Police Headquarters. We have since learned that there was a single bullet in the chamber. “Grandma” had come to the school to check on her grandson’s academic progress, and was told by a classmate that the child had a revolver in his backpack. DIVINE PROVIDENCE at work!

No school official was informed of this serious infraction of school security and safety by the grandparent. It was the Plainfield Police Department who notified our Director of Security, and in turn notified our Interim Assistant Superintendent who then notified me. Both the Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Walter Rusak, as well as the Interim Supervisor of Special Programs, Mr. Robert Burkhardt responded to the scene, assessed the situation, afforded the grandparent, parent, and child DUE PROCESS, and the Principal suspended the student for the maximum 9 to 10 days, pending further investigation and a hearing before the Superintendent and/or the Board of Education.

AT NO TIME WAS THE WEAPON DISPLAYED OPENLY BY THE STUDENT, NOR WAS ANY CHILD OR ADULT EVER IN DANGER. The Principal sent a letter home yesterday, the 27th to all the parents of the children who attend the Clinton School. Since the weapon was removed from the building even before of our learning about the infraction, and this was clearly an isolated incident, there was never a need to “lock down” the building nor search the elementary students and their possessions. School continued as usual, since very few people even knew of the incident until we informed the parents and guardians by letter that very afternoon. Plans are in the making for addressing this unavoidable incident directly with the parents of the Clinton School and other district schools in the immediate future.

Sincerely yours,
Peter E. Carter
Interim Superintendent of Schools

November 27, 2007

Dear Parents/Guardians:

This letter is to inform you that during the school day, a weapon was discovered which had been brought to school by a student. This was discovered by the student’s guardian during a visit to the classroom. The guardian immediately notified the police department, who in turn contacted our director of security and through their combined efforts, promptly addressed the situation. Please know that all students in the school were safe AT ALL TIMES, and at no time was anyone at risk. Furthermore, all disciplinary action, as per the Plainfield Board of Education policy, has been fully implemented.

In order to further emphasize the dangers of weapons, we will be holding one or more special assembly programs here at Clinton School as well as in all schools to highlight and discuss this very important topic. The importance of having a safe school environment is one that we take very seriously, and will continue to emphasize to all of our pupils.

Your continued support of our school and all of our programs is greatly appreciated.


Christy Oliver-Hawley

"District suspends boy accused of taking gun to school" -- Courier | Ledger | NY Times |
-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.