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Middletown Area Middle School student charged with possession of a weapon on school property

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/17/19

A 14-year-old Middletown boy has been charged with possession of a weapon on school property, Lower Swatara Police Chief Jeff Vargo said.

On Tuesday, the Middletown Area School District said that …

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Middletown Area Middle School student charged with possession of a weapon on school property

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A 14-year-old Middletown boy has been charged with possession of a weapon on school property, Lower Swatara Police Chief Jeff Vargo said.

On Tuesday, the Middletown Area School District said that after PSSA testing at Middletown Area Middle School, a student told a staff member that they heard that a student had brought a gun to school.

When administrators searched the student and his locker, they found an airsoft pistol in his backpack in the locker, MASD’s press release on the district website said.

The airsoft pistol did not have any ammunition, but the district wrote that possession of “a weapon or any replica of a weapon” violates school board policy.

In an email, MASD Superintendent Lori Suski told the Press & Journal that disciplinary actions were taken against the student, though she couldn’t specify because of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act. 

According to the district, the student showed the airsoft pistol to several students when he arrived to school in the morning, though none of them reported it to staff.

The district urged parents and guardians to remind students of “when you see something, say something,” and any students who aren’t comfortable reporting an incident to staff can report it anonymously through the Safe2Say Something (www.safe2saypa.org) system, which was launched in MASD in January.

Suski said the notice was placed on the website to make sure that parents and staff were informed, although the district also distributes notifications through the School Messenger email and social media.

“We believe it’s important for the facts to be given so that parents do not have to rely upon rumors and hearsay,” Suski said.

The cited board weapons policy said a weapon includes any gun, knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, shotgun, rifle, replica of a weapon or other tool that could inflict serious bodily injury.

Suski said this was the second incident this school year at MAMS; earlier in the year, a student had a pocket knife in his backpack. 

The policy says that the school board will expel any student who violated the weapon police for not less than one year, although the policy notes that the superintendent could recommend modifications of the expulsion requirement case-by-case and expulsion would conform with due process proceedings.

Safe2Say tips go to agents in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, who analyze the tip and forward the information to school and law enforcement officials if necessary.

So far the district has received 90 anonymous tips. Suski said a majority of the tips were about social interactions and concern for a student’s well being, though MASD has also received tips about cyberbullying, bullying, possible drug use and harassment.