Lakewood schools to get metal detectors after 4th-grader brings gun
LAKEWOOD — Before the school year is done the township's youngest students will see metal detectors installed at the elementary schools, much like they have at the middle and high school.
The announcement was made by Superintendent Laura Winters during a meeting with the district's principals and the Lakewood Police Department. The meeting was held a day after two elementary school students were charged with bringing a .22-caliber handgun on a school bus to school, which they claimed was for "protection."
District attorney Michael Inzelbuch said that the district was not going to address the Tuesday situation directly, as it was still under investigation, but said the district had policies to ensure the safety of the community. Inzelbuch also detailed the district's policies for what could happen to the two students, who have not been publicly identified because they are underage.
Across Lakewood schools, there are 23 security officers plus a supervisor who are all former state or municipal police officers, according to Inzelbuch.
One policy requires that "any pupil who is convicted or is adjudicated delinquent for possession of a firearm or found in possession must be immediately removed from the regular education program and provided with an alternative program pending a hearing before the Board of Education," Inzelbuch said.
Students found to be in possession of a firearm on school grounds or on a bus will be removed from the regular education program "for a period of not less than one calendar year," Inzelbuch said.
District Director of Security John Stillwell said schools were not placed on a lockdown as a result of the incident because of the quick response and containment of the situation.
"The reason we didn't go into a lockdown at the school was the treat was taken care of immediately," he said. "There was never a threat once the child was in Mr. Joseph Schroepfer's hands."
As the principal of the Oak Street School, Schroepfer said there was no indication of a potential problem that would lead a student to bring the weapon to school. Inzelbuch said the district was "not aware of any prior incidents of any guns in any of our elementary buildings," but added that "we have since learned that there could have been." He said police are investigating that as well.
Stillwell said he planned on visiting the district's five elementary schools on Wednesday to assess how and where the metal detectors will go. Inzelbuch said they have already been approved by the board of education, and that they could be installed within the next 10 days.
When asked about what was being done to prevent firearms and weapons from being brought onto district buses, Inzelbuch said he and Winters would be meeting with the bus company later in the day to discuss the situation.
"If it was on the bus, it won't get into the school," he said " But I think we need to think about and we need to talk about privately how to make sure they don't get onto the bus if there's a way."
A letter from the district will be sent out later Wednesday announcing the metal detectors, and while Inzelbuch said the machines may create delays initially it is worth it to ensure student safety at all grades in the district.
"This is not just in districts like ours, which is the only district like ours in Ocean County," he said. "We never needed that in the elementary schools. We now know that we are doing this, whether we need it or not. We are being proactive."
It’s a work in progress. They are safe. This is not just in districts like ours which is the only district like ours in Ocean County. We never needed that in the elementary school. We now know that we are doing this, whether we need it or not, we are being proactive.