In a May 16 letter mailed home to Marcellus Central School District parents, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Craig J. Tice and Marcellus Village Police Chief Robert Wicks offer details of an incident that prompted a criminal investigation of two C.S. Driver Middle School students by district school resources officers, village police and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department.
On Monday, May 12, the two students, who are not being identified because they are underage, were overheard by other students having a disturbing conversation about violent movies and past school shootings. That evening, one of those other students reported what was overheard to a parent, who contacted school officials Tuesday morning.
The district’s three school resource officers – Matt Hayes, John Scanlon and Earl Smith – along with DMS school administration, immediately interviewed the witness and the two suspects and determined the presence of a credible threat. The district alerted village police and sheriff’s deputies, who then conducted a search of the students’ homes. In one of the homes, deputies found and removed a number of weapons.
On Wednesday, it was further disclosed that one of the two students indicated a desire to do harm to a couple of classmates.
On Thursday, as the district followed its threat assessment protocols, school officials spoke to faculty and staff members (at faculty meetings), and a plan was put in place to inform the parents and the community. The plan included a joint statement to be posted both electronically and mailed to family households, informing them of the incident, in addition to press releases to the media.
Although student privacy laws prohibit district officials from commenting on any specific action taken, the superintendent and police chief both said they are confident the immediate threat has been extinguished.
“It has been determined by law enforcement that the incident has been thoroughly investigated, that the threat has been eliminated and access to weapons has been removed, and that no students are in any danger,” Dr. Tice said Thursday.
“The situation has been brought to a successful conclusion,” Chief Wicks said. “School district officials and local law enforcement have collaborated in a manner – especially thanks to the work of the school resource officers – that ensured that this situation received the utmost attention and priority and that the school district has taken appropriate action.”
Both Dr. Tice and Chief Wicks offered their thanks and admiration to the student who opted not to be simply a bystander.
“This incident proves that our first line of defense is the students themselves,” Dr. Tice said. “This young witness demonstrated good judgment and great courage by stepping forward.”