Northfield Center — A week after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, school officials at Northfield Elementary alerted parents regarding an incident in which a fourth-grade boy who brought a toy gun to school in his school bag.
Superintendent Joe Clark said the incident happened Dec. 21 — the Friday before winter break and one week after the Dec. 14 Connecticut tragedy, in which a gunman entered a school and killed 26 people, including 20 children.
Clark said school staff found out about the toy gun after the student showed it to some friends, who later told school staff.
Clark said the toy, “a plastic toy gun,” was in the student’s school bag. He said it was not the kind that fired projectiles but “looked kind of like a machine gun” and had an orange muzzle at the end of its barrel. Other students knew it was a toy, he added.
“The student said the toy gun was played with at home and mistakenly placed and forgotten in the bag,” Clark said.
Clark declined to provide further information about the student and any disciplinary action the school took or may have taken. He said the incident is covered by the student code of conduct, but did not elaborate.
Clark said police were in all school buildings that morning, “to allay the anxiety associated with the national rumors pertaining to the Mayan calendar.” Rumors circulating in popular culture held the Mayan culture predicted Dec. 21, 2012, would be the end of the world.
Summit County Sheriff’s Inspector Bill Holland said a deputy at the school that day was informed of the incident but didn’t have any contact with the child, who was not arrested.
Clark said that if police had not been in the building, they probably wouldn’t have been called “because there was no threat to anybody and nobody was ever in danger.”
Clark said a statement was sent to all parents on the school’s “all call” phone message list to inform them of the incident, as school staff expected children would be talking about it at home. Clark said the district wanted to make sure there were no false rumors being spread and also to remind parents that toy weapons are not allowed at school.
He said the “general flavor” of the call, made by principal Jevonne Smith, was as follows: “The safety of the children that attend Northfield Elementary school is always a top priority for me and the rest of the school staff. Unfortunately today a student brought a toy gun to school. A Summit County Sheriff was in the building when this occurred and the deputy remained with me in the building until the situation was resolved. No one was in danger, no one was harmed and there never was a threat. The student has been disciplined according to the school’s code of conduct. In this time of heightened awareness, please discuss with your children that it is never appropriate to say words or engage in actions that can be perceived as threatening and if they are to see or hear anything that jeopardizes their safety while at school that they should let an adult know right away.”