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Superintendent Provides More Info On Staples HS Threat, Response

Westport Superintendent Colleen Palmer Photo Credit: Larry Untermeyer
Staples High School in Westport. Photo Credit: File

Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer praised both her students and staff members at Staples High School in the wake of a threat that forced a precautionary early dismissal on Tuesday.

A student at the high school overheard threatening statements made by another on Tuesday morning, who quickly alerted school officials, prompting a police response on campus shortly after 9 a.m.

Palmer said that within minutes of receiving this information, a Staples administrator had the student of concern supervised in the main office, called the police, and called her office. She said from there, the district’s Central Office administrative team, the Staples High School administrative team, the Westport Police Department, and First Selectman “worked hand-in-hand to address the presenting issues throughout the day.”

According to police , while investigating the student and the threat, detectives found firearms at his home that belong to his father, which were reportedly locked in a safe.

“As a precautionary measure, police officers were assigned to our high school,” Palmer added. “It was only several hours later that information emerged that prompted us to shift to our strategy to shelter in place and to dismiss early.

“The events of today unfolded dynamically and rapidly. Since this is an ongoing police investigation, there is a need to collaborate with the Westport Police Department in sharing further information so as not to impede their work.”

On Wednesday, following the threats, Palmer said that professionals within the district plan to address individual needs with the younger students, while there will be small group discussion opportunities at Staples.

Palmer said she met with staff members before school opened on Wednesday to “debrief and commend their exceptional service to our students,” noting that they stayed “calm, implemented well-practiced safety protocols and made every effort to assure students were comfortable and made to feel safe,” amid the hectic day.

“I would expect that the events at Staples today impacted you in some way, stirring up many emotions. I can only imagine the level of worry that some of you experienced. The idea that we have to even think about the wave of violence that has hit our schools in these times is unfathomable.”

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