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Saxe Middle School returns to normal after 'potential threat'

Updated 9:59 am, Friday, March 22, 2013

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  • It was business as usual at Saxe Middle School this morning. A police car will be stationed outside the school all day. Photo by Jeanna Petersen Shepard, New Canaan, Conn., March 15, 2013 Photo: Freelance Photo
    It was business as usual at Saxe Middle School this morning. A police car will be stationed outside the school all day. Photo by Jeanna Petersen Shepard, New Canaan, Conn., March 15, 2013 Photo: Freelance Photo

 

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A week after a "potential threat" locked down Saxe Middle School and sent bomb-sniffing dogs into the classrooms, the daily routine of students and teachers has been restored.

"The day after, attendance was running within normal ranges," Schools Superintendent Mary Kolek said.

"Students bounced back and were there."

Little information has been released by the police and school district on what happened Thursday, March 14.

In an email sent to parents that afternoon, Kolek said a staff member "found information inside of the school that was considered to be of a potentially threatening nature." Police were alerted and the school was placed on a "precautionary lockdown, and, as the police determined there was no current or imminent threat, students were released through a controlled and supervised dismissal."

Both Stamford and the State Police bomb squads were called in, and an officer was stationed at the school overnight. Police were dressed in full crisis gear, which Kolek said would be done regardless of the level of the threat.

A number of parents felt the school did a good job in handling the situation.

"I thought they did a great job. (Principal) Greg Macedo and his entire staff handled it extremely well," said Renee Fill, a parent and co-president of the Saxe Parent Teacher Council.

Her comments were echoed by Maria Weingarten, also a parent of a Saxe student and a liaison between the Board of Education and New Canaan High School's Parent Faculty Association.

"You learn from what didn't work to make it better," Weingarten added, but said everything was handled well Thursday.

Another parent felt that the administration could have alerted parents faster, but said the school did a good job making the kids feel safe. Elizabeth Cusco, the secretary of the Saxe PTC who has two children in sixth grade, said she found out about the situation after a business associate drove past the school, noticed police cars and called her. She said she called the secretary at Saxe who read an email which explained the situation. Cusco said she did not receive the email until 15 minutes after the initial phone call.

"In terms of how they made the kids feel, they did a great job. The kids were really all fine and didn't seem to be nervous, and the next day it was back to school as normal," Cusco said, adding, "I wish we'd get more detail on what happened."

Police still are investigating the incident, but signs indicate it might take a while before a suspect is named.

"No progress," Sgt. Carol Ogrinc of the New Canaan Police Department said Tuesday. "It's still an open investigation. We're hoping we receive some information, (but) nothing worthwhile from the tip line."

The incident at Saxe came on the heels of heightened local discussion of school security following the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, where 20 schoolchildren and six adults were killed. The Town Council recently approved a special appropriation of $274,000 to add unarmed security monitors in each of the schools this year, including two at Saxe. The district has not hired and installed the monitors yet.

Kolek did not say the monitors would have helped in the Saxe situation, but said the monitors would integrate into the district's goal to have a total safety apparatus.

"I think what it says is that you need a complete infrastructure and system, and that's what we've been speaking about," Kolek said Tuesday. "There's no one thing: It's all the pieces that we put together that creates an environment that is safe and secure."

The Connecticut Mastery Tests scheduled for Friday, March 15, were postponed until Monday, March 18, Kolek said.

Police encourage students or parents with knowledge of the incident to call the anonymous tip line at the police station at 203-594-3544.

Editor Ashley Varese contributed to this story.

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