UPDATE II: Student Who Missed Bus Triggered Schools’ Shelter-in-Place Order

May 19, 2022 | Education, Police & Fire | 2 comments

WESTPORT — A “breakdown” in communication over a Staples High School student who missed the bus Thursday morning triggered a “shelter-in-place” order for both Staples and Bedford Middle School.

In a community update at 1 p.m. Thursday, Scarice said that “incomplete and inaccurate information regarding the student’s identity and school” led school officials, after collaborating with police, to issue the order about 10:15 a.m. Thursday.

The incident unfolded about 9 a.m. Thursday, officials said, after a student who missed the bus walked to the Dattco bus yard to ask for a ride to the Staples/Bedford campus on North Avenue.

However, when the bus company contacted the school district’s transportation coordinator about plans to transport the student, Scarice said a miscommunication prompted the coordinator to contact the Bedford and central administrative offices.

The administration then contacted the Police Department’s school security officer, the Staples administration and its school resource officer.

After reviewing video surveillance, the school resource officer was able to determine the student was dropped off at Bedford Middle School, but walked toward Staples High School.

In a statement on the incident, Lieut. David Wolf, the police spokesman, said, “The incident was deemed suspicious because at the time no one recognized this individual, and it was unknown what he was doing on school property.  

“Out of an abundance of caution, the schools’ superintendent placed both Bedford Middle School and Staples High School in a shelter-in-place status.”

The school protection officers “sought additional resources” from the Police Department, with officials ordering both schools be put under a shelter-in-place order, Scarice said.

Police officers were dispatched “to make sure the students at both schools were kept safe and to look for this unknown person,” Wolf said. Detectives “also went to the scene and worked with school officials to attempt to identify the party.” 

After further investigation, the student was “identified, interviewed and it was determined that the shelter-in-place could be lifted,” the superintendent said.

“The student was simply running late and after managing to get a ride to Bedford, he walked over to Staples,” according to Wolf.

The shelter-in-place order was lifted about 45 minutes later at 11 a.m.

“The administration is committed to identifying the breakdown of the Dattco bus yard communication and protocols in this incident,” Scarice said.

Students and staff were not in danger at any point during the incident, the superintendent added.

Both school and police officials credited coordination between the two agencies for a quick resolution of the incident.

2 Comments

  1. Rachel Levinson

    Can someone explain why a young boy in middle school walking on school property to go to school would cause so much alarm that the school would go into lockdown and police would be dispatched? They knew a kid was catching a ride who missed the bus. No one thought to simply ask the kid who he was or investigate further before going into freak out mode? And we wonder why students have anxiety? This makes no sense.

    • 06880 PARENT

      Totally agree. What a ridiculous response. An entire school is put into lockdown because of this. Our police chief says that “this was the best possible outcome.” Really? And our superintendent notes that “at no time were our students and staff in danger.” No kidding. Well, at least they are “committed to identifying” the breakdown in communication and protocols. Is this a school…or a prison? Thank goodness my kids are now out of the Westport school system.

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