Parents question JT board after woman was arrested at school
Jim Thorpe School District officials have defended their handling of an incident where police arrested a wanted woman at an elementary school and found drugs on her.
But they said they will also make changes, like posting police at more events and notifying parents if another incident occurs.
“We already have a contract we signed with Kidder (police) and the borough that they’re going to be at every event from now on. We got caught with our pants down,” said board member Paul Montemuro.
On Dec. 13, state police arrested a 34-year-old woman on an outstanding warrant near the LB Morris school building. She was reportedly found with suspected methamphetamine. The woman had reportedly been attending a school play.
Police learned she was there and contacted her by phone, urging her to turn herself in. She reportedly fled the building and was arrested after a short foot chase.
At the board’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday a parent of an LB Morris student expressed shock that she had to read about the incident in her son’s school in an online news article, instead of hearing about it from the district.
Liz Hoherchak said it was appalling that she had to read online that someone was arrested in her son’s school and found to be possessing drugs.
She said that the district did not notify parents about the incident until about a week later. She said the school should have used its all-call system to notify parents immediately following the incident.
“I was so angry, I felt like the safety of my child was in jeopardy and I had no control over it,” Hoherchak said.
Superintendent John Rushefski said that L.B. Morris Principal Holly Mordaunt followed the protocols of ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training perfectly.
Mordaunt said she didn’t know the woman had drugs until she read the article herself.
“We learned some of those things the same time as the parents did,” she said.
District officials said they have adjusted some procedures following the incident.
Rushefski said parents can now expect an all-call from the district shortly after any similar incidents in the future.
Montemuro said the district will now have police officers at more school events.
Hoherchak asked why the district hasn’t hired a school resource officer when it had allocated funds for the position last year
Board members said that they are waiting for the Jim Thorpe Police Department and Kidder Township Police Department to hire officers for the position.
Jim Thorpe’s police chief says they have someone ready to take the position and they’re currently reviewing the contract.
Rushefski said that the police departments are very responsive whenever there is an incident, and they have a good working relationship.
Jessica Knoll, another parent of an L.B. Morris student, said she happened to be in the building for another event when the incident occurred. She praised the handling of the incident inside the building — saying the students had no idea that it even took place.
“How it was handled after the fact is a different story, but how it was handled in the school, I have full confidence that my kids are going to school and they’re safe,” she said.
Hoherchak said her worst fear was that the woman would drop drugs inside the school and an elementary school student would find them and consume them. She said parents deserved the opportunity to use the incident to warn their children not to consume items they find on the ground at school.
“I fear for the parents of children who are younger — that somebody would just pick something up and put it in their mouth,” she said.
This story has been corrected to show that state police responded to the Dec. 13 incident at LB Morris.