EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 20, 2012

Police investigate months-old threat

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@eagletribune

---- — LAWRENCE — Local detectives and administrators at Central Catholic High School are investigating threats made by a student against the school and students late in the last school year and reported by two of his classmates earlier this week.

The student in question, whose name or grade has not been released, cannot attend the school at least until after the investigation is complete, the school said in a statement released yesterday.

“On Monday, Dec. 17, two Central Catholic students alleged to school administration that a third student had uttered a threat several months ago about causing harm to the school and its students,” according to the statement, released by David DeFillippo, the school’s director of community relations. “Immediately upon receiving this information, the administration took steps to isolate the student from the school community to ensure the safety of all students and to allow for a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities.”

The statement went on to say: “Consistent with school policy, the school has informed the student in question that, at the very least, the student will not be allowed to attend school until and unless Central Catholic has assured itself fully that no danger in any way is posed to the school community.”

Police Chief John Romero said detectives are investigating and no charges have been filed.

“We just started it,” he said. “We are still talking to people.”

DeFillippo said the student has not been suspended nor has he been expelled.

“The investigation is close to being completed,” he said, adding that students can’t be disciplined without going through “due process.”

DeFillippo said no weapons were involved, but that it was an “utterance” made by the student to two classmates at the end of the last school year.

He said they probably didn’t think much about the alleged threat until the incident in Newtown, Conn., made them realize what could happen.

“The events of Newtown may have caused these two students to come forward and recall something that happened at end of the last school year,” he said. “When you think of the horror of Newtown, it may have helped them recall as important what they thought was insignificant.”

In an email earlier this week to parents, Principal Doreen Keller said, “As you are well aware, the events in Newtown have made this a difficult and stressful time for students, parents and educators in school systems across the country. I want to assure you of the 100 percent commitment of the administration, faculty and staff of Central Catholic to do everything possible to maintain a safe and stable environment with the well-being of your child as our very first priority.”

Romero said the investigation could conclude by today or tomorrow.