Student suspended after bomb threat

Threat casts rumors across CHS

Stella Feinstein and Henry Frieman

A student was suspended after a reported bomb threat to Communications High School on social media led to a school search on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Neither the Wall Township Police Department nor the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office said they found any evidence of an explosive on school grounds.

According to an eyewitness report, the freshman was escorted out of his first period class by a law enforcement officer and CHS Principal James Gleason, who was holding the student’s backpack.

No shelter-in-place or lockdown procedure went into effect as the police searched the school.

“Our number one concern is the safety of our students, our staff and our visitors,” MCVSD assistant superintendent Sean Meehan said. “We’re going to do everything we can to support that.”

According to three teachers, a parent reached out to Gleason just after school started and reported that the student sent an inappropriate Snapchat message at 6:30 p.m. the previous night. Freshmen who saw the post, which was sent in a group chat including 35 to 40 students, said that the post specifically mentioned a bomb.

The Inkblot is withholding the name of the student who was suspended.

At the same time the message was reported to Gleason, an officer from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, who routinely patrols each MCVSD school, walked into the building.  

The Wall Township Police Department said that although an investigation is ongoing, there is no immediate threat to students. 

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office declined to elaborate, noting that little information will be provided due to the case involving a juvenile. If charges were to be filed, they would be announced in a press release, an office spokesperson said in an email.

The school district’s judgment regarding the student will be made by the MCVSD Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18.  The district policy defines suspensions as one of two types – “short term” or “long term.” A “short term” suspension is any suspension that is 10 days or less. The Board of Education has the option to turn the suspension into a “long term” suspension to extend beyond the 10 days. Students on “long term” suspensions may be expelled after a hearing before the board.

The MCVSD district policy, in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A 18A:37-4, states that the suspension and expulsion process is as follows: A student must be suspended by the principal, who reports the suspension to the MCVSD superintendent. Then, the superintendent reports the suspension to the Board of Education at its meeting. 

Gleason declined to comment on the student’s disciplinary status. State law prohibits school officials from releasing much detail about students who are subject to disciplinary action.

At the beginning of the lunch period on the morning the student was removed from school, Gleason instructed faculty to participate in an emergency faculty meeting, leaving students bewildered. At the faculty meeting, he relayed a synopsis of the morning’s events to teachers, according to several people who attended the meeting. 

However, students noticed the Wall Township police cruiser parked outside of the front door, and by the end of the lunch block, multiple theories had floated among the student body, evoking a firestorm of rumors.

“No one really knew what had happened at first, so people were just telling everyone different things in rapid succession,” said senior Maddie Lee of Red Bank.

“I didn’t hear any information until my friend told me there were police cars outside and a freshman was taken out of school,” freshman Rebecca McLean of Wall Township added. “I was really confused and heard many rumors and didn’t know what to believe.”

Gleason sent the email to parents at 3:16 p.m. Tuesday, just under an hour after school was dismissed for the day. 

“While this information will be a concern for you, it is important for parents to understand that our response was immediate and taken with the safety and concern of all staff and students in mind,” Gleason wrote in the email.

Students, however, were left in the dark throughout the day, with no official communication addressing the incident. 

“I wish we had more information about this situation and more clarity regarding the matter,” said freshman Stacy Lin of Manalapan. “This situation caused a lot of confusion for both students and parents.”

Although the threat was handled, school nurse Dorothy Condon feels as though the calm environment of CHS has been disturbed.

“It makes us think twice about our nice, comfortable home,” Condon said.

When asked what he would tell students and teachers concerned for their future safety, Gleason declined to comment. 

“You know, I was thinking about this interview and what a good opportunity this would be to open up to some students,” Gleason said during a meeting with The Inkblot. “But I really can’t say anything, can I?”