Increased police presence at Wallingford schools continued Friday after message found on whiteboard

Increased police presence at Wallingford schools continued Friday after message found on whiteboard

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Local police maintained an increased presence at schools on Friday after an “inappropriate” message was found on a Sheehan High School whiteboard earlier in the week.

At a Friday morning meeting with about a dozen parents and Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo, Police Chief William Wright said patrol officers were at the schools when they were not required elsewhere. Three community police officers were also rotated between schools.

“We have nothing or no reason to believe” that there is a threat to students or faculty, Wright said.

The message was discovered Wednesday by a student, who sent a photo of the whiteboard to a parent. The parent contacted police. A teacher erased the message before police arrived, Menzo said. The nature of of the message has not been disclosed. 

“We don’t take this stuff lightly,” Wright said. “Maybe it was a joke, but it’s not funny.”

Wright said it is possible that, unless students come forward with information, the case may not be solved. While there were no suspects as of Friday, Wright said they had narrowed down a group of students who may have had access to the room. Since there is no direct evidence at this time linking any of those students to the incident, they are still attending classes.

Wright and Menzo outlined the security measures already in place at Sheehan, such as electronic monitoring of entrances, security cameras and lockdown alarms, which alert the police department. Wright said his department is looking into the possibility of allowing officers at the police station to view school security cameras in real time.

Parents whose children stayed home from class Thursday voiced concerns that their absences would not be excused, which Menzo said he cannot override due to state law. If students obtain a doctor’s note saying the child was unable to attend Thursday or Friday due to emotional distress, the absence will be excused.

Menzo said “a large number of students” did not attend school Thursday.

A parent also asked if the police department is able to seize weapons at a home after a student is involved in a threat. Menzo said he and Wright often speak about taking this step, which Wright said is typically done following domestic violence incidents.

Another meeting with parents is scheduled for March 7.

“This is the leadership I wanted to see,” said parent Jennifer Parmelee. She said the meeting assuaged her initial concerns that the investigation was not transparent enough for parents. “It’s good to know there’s more than a one-and-done investigation.”

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