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Unarmed Security To Guard School Entrances, Police and School Officials Say

Security meeting called after a former student's violent plot was thwarted.

Wall High School in this file photo.
Wall High School in this file photo.

The Wall Township Schools are on course to have unarmed guards posted at the entryways to each of its seven school buildings during school hours, police and district officials said Monday.

More than 100 attended a 7 p.m. meeting, a joint production of the Wall Township Police and the school system, which was called to discuss school security following the discovery of a former student's violent plot to harm scores of classmates.

The two-hour session touched on the April incident that triggered a police investigation into a then-fifth grade student’s violent threats against fellow students, and eventually uncovered a plot to harm at least 40 pupils and others, as well as the district’s response and the school system’s plan to beef up security.

Police Chief Robert Brice, whose children attend Wall Township schools, led the meeting and fielded the majority of the more than 40 audience questions. Interim schools Superintendent Stephanie Bilenker and other district officials were also on hand in the Wall Township High School auditorium to comment, interject and answer questions. 

“I have children in the (school) system and I know a lot of children in the system,’’ Brice said. “We take this very seriously. I can tell you the principals and the school staff take it seriously.”

The school district, in consultation with the police, plan to build vestibules into each of the school buildings – a sort of limbo area between the outside of the school and the inside of the school proper – where two unarmed guards, security cameras and a new system to scan the driver’s license of every person seeking access to the school would be filtered before gaining entry, Bilenker said.

The district would pay for the guards “for now,” who would carry walkie-talkies with a direct line to the police department, and it would seek funding from the state to offset the cost of the vestibules and other planned security measures. Bilenker was unable to set at timeline Monday for either measure.

Brice said retired police officers would be sought for the guard positions.

Both Brice and Bilenker talked about a “fast pass’’ system, which Bilenker said would be paid for by the district and would be installed at each of the schools. No price was given Monday.

The system, Brice and Bilenker said, would scan the driver’s license of those requesting entrance to the school and match that license against those on sex offender registry lists, like Megan’s Law.

But one parent pointed out that the most recent threat was from within the student population, not from a danger from the outside.

“This is not some pedophile walking in through the front door,’’ the woman, who did not give her name, said. “This is a classmate.’’

Brice said encouraging children to speak up when they see something was the best line of defense before talking about the difficulty, time and expense of implementing metal detector system, which a previous questioner asked about.

The former student at the center of the controversy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, will be charged in juvenile court with harassment, creating a false public alarm and making terroristic threats, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has said.

The student’s court date is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 23 in Freehold before Judge James J. McGann.  Unlike adult court cases, juvenile court hearings are closed the public.

The boy faces a possible sentence of two years probation, officials have said.

District officials in April found a note containing general, but violent threats and removed the student from the Central School and he was never allowed to attend the Intermediate School this September. He has been attending an alternative education program, officials have said.

The note led to a police investigation in which a computer was seized, and a plan was found that named 40 district students at the Intermediate School and some celebrities as possible targets, authorities have said.

Wall Police at first called the plan “elaborate,’’ and compared it to a “Columbine’’ or “Newtown’’ mass casualty event. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office later said those comparisons were inaccurate and called the plan “non-specific.’’

“We believe it was more of a fantasy-type thing he had,’’ Wall Police Lt. John Brockriede has said. “Not something he was capable of actually carrying out.’’

At Monday’s meeting, Brice hammered home that point several times, saying the child’s plot had "elements of fantasy,’’ and reiterating that the boy had no access to weapons. 

The Board of Education may plan to discuss security measures when it meets Tuesday, but the board made no indication of any discussion Monday. Neither a mention of the meeting nor its agenda was posted to the school board's website late Monday.

Wall Outraged September 17, 2013 at 07:37 AM
What specific threat does this address? It doesn't address the incident with a student. It is a knee jerk reaction to do something, and will do little to prevent against legitimate internal threats (DC Navy yard shooter had legitimate access and walked in). This is creating a false sense of safety. The district still won't admit it botched handling the communication of the incident. If they can't handle communication in a non-emergency what will it be like when something significant, God forbid, occurs?
Cathi September 17, 2013 at 07:43 AM
Do not agree communication was botched. If you needed to know you would have known. Are we not 1 million times more likely to put our children at risk driving in our own vehicles than sending them to school without guards or police?
Wall Outraged September 17, 2013 at 07:48 AM
To Cathi - the communication I'm referring to is the press release which was followed by no one available for comment for two days, then the robo calls that Friday evening. I agree the parents were notified, it was the public notice and unavailability of a spokesperson to answer media questions that caused a great many rumors and misstatements.
Really? September 17, 2013 at 07:59 AM
Where was Storts? Every other Administrator was there but him. As to the communication, it was handled exactly the way it should have been. 1. The child was removed. 2. All Central School 5th Grade parents were notified. 3. The police confiscated his computer. 4. When the evidence proved more threatening a meeting was called with the Parents of children mentioned. What do you think should have been done? He is a 10 year old CHILD. There is a process that in America our Law Enforcement must and should abide by. I suppose you Wall Outraged are a proponent of metal detectors. Did you hear what Chief Brice said as to how long it would take just to get the students into school? Over reaction is not what is needed here. A sound policy will result from the combined efforts of the Wall PD and BOE. Give them a chance.
Wall Outraged September 17, 2013 at 09:41 AM
The public communication allowed the media to blow it out or proportion in large part because no one was available from the district to answer their questions. I think the police and how they handled it was correct and proper. I don't want metal detectors, and Really? you read too much into things. A sound policy includes planning how to handle questions from the media once a press release is issued. That was an obvious miss by the BOE as the super was unavailable.
bayboat September 17, 2013 at 01:02 PM
The plan was "thwarted"? I thought the police said it was a "fantasy"plan, no capability, and no action taken to implament any "plan". So what was thwarted? A fantasy list with no hope of being implamented gets guards in all the schools? Hyper reactive knee jerk on the Boards part. But unfortunetely that describes most of society as well.
Rick Ricky September 17, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Everyone knows exactly what Storts from Central is capable of. He might have reported it this time. According to a couple of good friend of mine he was warned numerous times for all the times he hasn't report. Basically on his last legs. He also has been in the papers and media prior to this problem. He no longer has former superintendent Habel to protect him. From what i heard he still has some of his horrible staff and some parents who will defend him for their own selfish reasons and this is why the public systems has so many problems. I also heard some talking, Who isn't crying out for help in Storts school? Could it be this boy was at the hands of someone awful like him and he could have been part of the problem and did not report prior to this that the boy was having some trouble or difficulties in his school. Possibly he wasn't being treated fairly. Everyone knows how Stort operates. He selectively see's and helps who he wants according to so many. Let's just say from what I know. I not only would trust these individuals with my life and the reason I trust the source and where it came from.
Rick Ricky September 17, 2013 at 10:47 PM
I kid you not. Storts has pushed other kids to their brink.
GETALIFE September 20, 2013 at 09:24 PM
@RR....This is true. Storts had pushed plenty over the edge. I don't understand how the BOE, school administration continued to keep him employed in the Wall School System. Especially when they are well aware of all the problems he creates in the community of Wall. He has a pattern of abusive impulsive manipulating behavior that affects everyone that is involved and under his watch.
GETALIFE September 21, 2013 at 07:47 AM
Schools in general will not admit to anything wrong. That is a big problem and why there is so many problems. They will put the blame on others and even set up others and their own to take away from their own screw ups.
Truth Hurts September 21, 2013 at 11:19 AM
To me, the question is why this happened. Why did this child do this? Once you know that, you can start to fix the problem. If he was bullied, did the school have a plan in place and implement it? By plan, I mean a written policy that is public, realistic, consistent, reviewed and improved upon as needed. My experience, although somewhat dated, shows the entire plan was a banner at the entrance of the school saying something like "Say no to bullying" and that is it. If it was a mental issue, were there any other signs? What was done, etc. We don't need to know who the child was, but knowing why he did it is step one. I may have missed it, but I haven't seen an answer to this question. Until we have one, we are just making our schools more like the jails (what my son called it when he went there) they already resemble.
Rick Ricky October 01, 2013 at 11:42 PM
It is hard to stop bullying going on in the schools when some of the administrators, teachers and coaches are bullying students, parents and their own and other co-workers. Maybe they should have classes on bullying with in their schools. To identify and explain what bullying really means and is. Obviously they don't know being it is allowed to go on and continue amongst each other.
Ron Burgundy October 02, 2013 at 09:17 AM
What do you expect from a principal who lets the PTO run the school? They are the only people who will support Storts. The teachers can't even open their mouths about him without worrying about the repercussions. It's ridiculous that his behavior has been allowed to go on for so long. For the most part the school has great teachers but an arrogant jerk that oversees it all. I've known a few parents who felt he just 'had it in' for their kids. He's a mean spirited creep. If they get rid of him they need to do a clean sweep of the PTO and then maybe that school will stand a chance at treating all kids equal instead of preferential treatment based on who your parents are.
GETALIFE October 12, 2013 at 05:50 PM
I do agree with your opinion on Storts. However you left out that he has a pattern of controlling impulsive abusive manipulating behavior. Storts might set up the PTO and let them think they are running the show. He just cries and gives him only his side of the many sides of the stories. The poor desperate ( it's not me act) He is pathetic. That is how he gets support and the possibility that they might either get special treatment for their own kid or a job down the road. NOT SO. Mr. Storts knows exactly what he does, It is cold calculated set ups on those whom he doesn't or does like. Doesn't matter if its one of his students, parents or teachers. You said it....But it is only some teachers that will not open their mouths because of the repercussions. He has no problem with all those opening their mouth who will take his side no matter what he does, Its a trade off. Some people are just so pathetic on how far they will go to get special treatment. I also agree he is an arrogant jerk that oversees it all and that is why they need a change so desperately. I have no doubt He just "had it in" for their kids, he also did the same with certain parents and his staff. Some teachers and coaches are not innocent either, they need to clean sweep some of them too. All kids, parents, and staff should be treated equal. End of story. Preferential treatment should be illegal and against the law in a public school setting. There should be no tolerance for this type of behavior even though it is happening in other schools besides Wall Township. Such a disgrace and the reason so many questioned the schools today.

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