The Maplewood Middle School 7th grader who was taken into custody on June 3 after a code red lockdown at the school obtained the handgun that he brought to school at home.
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca revealed that piece of information at a Town Hall on School Safety last night at the school. Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino revealed that the boy’s parent had been charged with failure to secure the weapon. (The weapon had been legally obtained by the parent.)
Officials confirmed that the student would never return to the school district. However, a Columbia High School student who brought an airsoft gun — not considered by law as a firearm — and a kitchen-style knife to school on Thursday could be reinstated after one year.
CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron said that as building principal she ultimately would make the decision of whether or not to reinstate the student. “I certainly would make the entrance of any student contingent on if they can be safe in our building and on their impact on the safety and wellness of others,” said Aaron.
Regarding the MMS student, Cimino said that police were impeded in their investigation in that they could not compel a child to talk without the consent of the parent.
Regarding the CHS incident, Cimino noted that, while an airsoft gun is not a firearm, it is “grossly inappropriate” to bring one to school and creates a dangerous situation “because people think it’s real.”
Cimino and South Orange Police Chief James Chelel both said they would work with the district to educate children about gun violence. Cimino noted that there is a police presence in schools through the D.A.R.E. program and the work of Youth Aid Bureau officers. “As a community, you would have to decide if you want [police in schools] permanently,” said Cimino. However, Chelel cautioned about tipping the balance between taking schools from “educational facilities” to “correctional facilities.”
In response to a parent asking if there was gang activity at the high school, CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron said, “We work very closely with the police departments” and that gang activity is “not currently a concern.” Aaron added that “any rumor of gang activity is fully investigated.”
Read our full report on the Town Hall here.