Hello Newark School Community:
I want to update everyone regarding the vague fax that was sent to the District Office on Tuesday. After working with the Newark PD and just speaking with an Investigator from the NYS Troopers, I have been cleared to tell you that they have eliminated any local or immediate threat. This is great news and I want to thank both law enforcement agencies for their efforts and cooperation.
A few things I want you to know from my vantage point. First, the fax/message contained what I would characterize as a very low-level, potential threat. After consulting with the police department, which is our usual procedure, we determined that other than keeping children inside that day, there was no need to take any other action. As their investigation continued, we became reassured that there was no immediate danger to our schools and so we resumed normal activities. I realize my notification caused some anxiety and while I am sorry for that, I erred on the side of communicating what I could at the time.
Second, you should know that there are a few rumors that I want to address. There has been no other threat, of any kind, made to the Newark Schools since my last communication. There have been a variety of rumors about this but they are not true. Specifically, there has been no threat made regarding homecoming activities and we plan to proceed as usual. The police are always present at our major events and so they will be present at homecoming as well – but this is not unusual.
Last, there have been reports in many local communities of a threatening clown. As you may be aware, there is a new movie that is coming out and as part of the promotion of that movie, there have been clown sightings by wooded areas reported nationally. While this is brilliant marketing, it can cause a sense of unease and anxiety. There was a young adult sighted by some of our students wearing a clown mask and riding a skateboard yesterday in Newark. There is no evidence that this is connected to anything - but to be safe, we have reported it to the police.
As the police are wrapping up their investigation of the initial message, I am more reassured than ever that we are not at any increased risk of danger. However, given the events in South Carolina yesterday, I am constantly reminded that safety is our number one priority and I will continue to do my best to communicate everything I can to the staff and parents of the students who attend our schools. Have a great rest of your day and I hope to see you at our homecoming events.
Matt Cook, Superintendent of Schools