Parents were matched with their children until every student was accounted for. While students were being released, the principle Timothy Payne explained that the precautions were taken after a live .22-caliber cartridge was found in a hallway around lunch time.
Mr. Payne said that a lockdown was put into effect immediately after the discovery of the bullet at which time the Bennington Police as well as Catherine McClure, superintendent of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, were alerted of the situation. Reports say that no other evidence was found after a thorough search of the school.
We talked to the kids about (how) we had a concern about safety and that we had asked them to stay in place. We praised the kids and staff; we thought they did an excellent job, Payne said.
The aftermath of the incident force officials to cancel an upcoming school dance, but that students would not be required to submit homework on Monday.
Most students were released to the school buses at the normal release time and were presented a note to take home to their parents describing the situation.
The students lockers are scheduled to be searched for more evidence, which meant a lot of students would have to spend the weekend without a cellphone or jacket. With this in mind, officials allowed students to recover necessary items like medications or house keys from their lockers under supervision.
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette explained that even though police and school staff would continue to search the school for evidence throughout Friday. the incident could be the result of hunting season and, might be as innocent as the cartridge falling out of someones sweatshirt pocket.
But the bottom line is, this type of paraphernalia is not allowed in the school and it is very alarming and very concerning to the staff and the administration here, he said.
McClure said the schools response was, excellent decision-making.
(It was) erring on the side of caution, really, but to ensure that the students were safe. I was very impressed when I arrived because everything was in order. The lockdown was done correctly, properly; you could have heard a pin drop, she said.
Payne, McClure, and Doucette made clear their understanding of concerns by parents to get information about the situation out in a more timely fashion. Chief Doucette relayed that students safety was first priority, and McClure assured talks will resume about how to get information out quicker in the event of another incident.
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