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Cambridge School Locked Down During Police Investigation Friday

A misunderstanding led to a report of a suspicious person inside Cambridge Elementary School Friday morning.

Cambridge Elementary School was placed on lockdown Friday morning after a misunderstanding led to a report of a suspicious person inside the school.

At about 8:20 a.m. this morning, police said a mother was taking her child to the before school program, while an unidentified man was standing behind them as they awaited access to the school. As the parent entered after being buzzed in by a staff member, the man followed them inside the school, according to police.

When the parent took her child to the before school program, a paraprofessional at the school asked if the unidentified male was a relative of hers, to which she replied no. At that point, staff lost track of where the male had gone and the principal was alerted, police said.

South Brunswick Police arrived at Cambridge and placed the school on lockdown before the official school day began, as there were about a dozen students already in the building for the before school program, according to police.

Buses arriving with students were held back a few blocks away from the school, as police searched the area for the unidentified male. After a search determined the male was not inside the school, the lockdown was released and normal operations resumed at about 10:30 a.m.

Soon thereafter, it was determined the unidentified male was a parent at the school, who entered the building without checking in to leave a note for a teacher at Cambridge who was absent today. The subsitute teacher passed the note along and police contacted the parent who left the note.

"There was some concern from family and staff members. We wanted to be cautious and make sure the school is a safe environment," said police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan. "We explained to the parent the normal procedure for doing something like this and the parent was remorseful for causing a problem."

SBDadof5maybe6 February 02, 2013 at 05:21 AM
Nicole. You shouldn't use up all of your periods after your first sentence. Spread them out and use only one at the end of every sentence. Your comments will make more sense.
SBDadof5maybe6 February 02, 2013 at 05:27 AM
If the children are on the Knight Bus, will they be sitting on it for more than two hours? Or will it take them to Durmstrang or Beauxbaton to be housed until it is safe to return to Hogwarts?
Lewis Armistead February 02, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Is Mr. Famous at Hogwarts now? Cambridge was safe while he was there and now that Dumbledore is dead, Mr. Famous would be a perfect replacement. Just my opinion
Amy February 02, 2013 at 05:37 AM
Nicole, you seem to have an issue with my opinion in this matter. Your "inappropriate flags" of my posts mean nothing because I did not curse or attack anyone personally. Are you capable of articulating how my posts are inappropriate? Where do you disagree with me? Instead of attempting to flag my posts, why don't you tell me what you found inappropriate.
Lewis Armistead February 02, 2013 at 05:53 AM
I am very concerned about my children. My fear is that there are lunatics like you out there inciting hysteria when the actions of the school district were quick, decisive and appropriate. Next time, think before you type and make suggestions that are clear, concise, coherent, sober and realistic and then maybe you won't have people making fun of you.
Amy February 02, 2013 at 06:33 AM
In what way was I hurtful? Are you insinuating that I don't worry about my children because I don't become irrational in a critical situation? I, as you do, entrust the faculty and staff of our schools each and every day to keep my children safe and secure while they are in their care. If anything, the events that unfolded proved to me that that a potentially dangerous situation was recognized and dealt with swiftly and appropriately. My issue was with the criticism of keeping our children safe first and notifying the parents later. Not to mention the ridiculousness of quibbling over the children being kept safely on the buses. Call me crazy or inappropriate if it makes you feel better, or provides material for keeping dramatics going, but our children's safety was again PARAMOUNT. All I did was be realistic and factual about the situation and how it was handled. If you find that inappropriate and want to accuse me of being a drama starter, this may be an opportunity for you and others who think so, to look inward. Just an aside, your reaction to other people on here "we have to worry about", yet more drama. They are clearly poking fun at your scattered and accusatory addresses. You attacked me several times and deemed me inappropriate, yet now you say you meant no harm. Take responsibility for your words and actions. That's what good mothers teach their children, who they love and protect.
Amy February 02, 2013 at 06:58 AM
Nicole, I tried to engage you in a productive and responsible conversation, but you continue to seem to be unable to be coherent. God bless you and your child(ren).
Julie Rohr February 02, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Nicole...I agree with you 100%
Julie Rohr February 02, 2013 at 02:00 PM
The safety issues in our school need to be addressed. This town in my opinion is too political. So worried about their pensions and not too worried about the kids. If its not in their contract, it's not to be done. I see it more and more as my son gets older. Not all teachers but, some. I used the before school program (don't know about after school) in Cambridge. The "teacher" was constantly texting on her cell phone. I witnessed her buzzing in people without looking at the monitor. I pulled my son out of the program after this incident. FOCUS on the kids!
Julie Rohr February 02, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Showing Id, manning the doors, staying off the cell phones, cops patrolling the schools this is what needs to be discussed. Not what we are bringing to the teacher appreciation lunches or how we are going to fund raise for a rock wall in the gym or benches on the playgrounds that are put there for teachers and the children can't use them! STOP!
Fedup129 February 02, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Apparently this "teacher" was focused since she saw the man enter and noticed that he didn't make it into the before school program. You can not lump all teachers together. Do you even know what is in their contract? Do you know how much time a teacher spends working on your child's day? Or how many hours past the "contract" you speak about? You talk about budgets and fund raising. Do you know how much, on average a teacher put out of their pocket to enhance your child's learning experience? I agree with all of the posts that the current situation is not working, but let's talk about where the money is coming from. The district can't pay the teachers what they deserve, they cut classroom budgets, they took paras out of the classrooms so the teachers have no help. Let's talk about that contract, oh wait, there isn't a current one.
Julie Rohr February 02, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Fed up... I'm fed up. I didn't lump them all together so before u speak...READ! I have seen a teacher turn away a 6th grade boy who came back to Cambridge to see a teacher. The boy stood out in the rain until school was over! The teacher said "no you can't come in to see mrs so and so we have meetings." who the hell would turn away a boy who is obviously crying out for help? I'm lumping these teachers together along with the woman who runs b4 school at Cambridge who is always on her cell phone. So mr or ms fed up, u have no idea how fed up I am.
billybob February 02, 2013 at 02:40 PM
The school district and all schools within the township meet and/or exceed the recommendations of the State of New Jersey as far as the Safe School act is concerned. I read about posting a police officer in the school, or assigning someone to the door. The costs to assign an officer to every school would be astronomical, then you would be the first to complain about your taxes, or of the town being “too political” is their assignment of resources. As far as a person at the door, what is that person supposed to do? How would having a person there be different than the current “buzzing” in of parents/visitors? How is that increased security? Sorry, but it is not, but rather a false sense of security. If someone wants in, they are getting in. Whether there is a police officer there or other staff member. I have had my own children attend numerous schools in this town and have never, ever felt that they were not in the safest environment possible for a school setting. Short of metal detectors, bars on the windows and razor wire on the roof, what more can be done physically? We do not live in a police state and the schools should not feel like a prison, but rather as an open caring learning environment.
billybob February 02, 2013 at 02:41 PM
One of the biggest safety issues I have noted are the parents who feel that they do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else. They enter the schools and go about on their own way and those who make baseless complaints against teachers and feel as though they own the school. People realize that this was an isolated incident, it will be a learning experience for all involved and I am sure that adjustments will be made in the future concerning the communication issues. Be thankful it wound up being a misunderstanding, stop the bashing and let the police and school district address any issues that were found lacking in the responses yesterday. Stop complaining and be thankful that there was a response plan in place, many towns and cities are lacking in this area. Most importantly, all of the staff and students went home to their families at the end of the day, didn’t they?
Julie Rohr February 02, 2013 at 02:42 PM
And she wasn't focused! If she was focused she would have met the man at the door and never would have allowed someone without a child to enter the building with out questioning him! Use some budget Money to get this women the education on safety measures she needs! Enough with the nonsense!
Fedup129 February 02, 2013 at 02:44 PM
So you want someone checking IDs, and sitting at the door but you want people (even children) roaming the building? Seeing a teacher and crying out for help as you stated are not the same thing. Was he visiting or did he have a problem that he thought she/he could help with? In addition, that contract you speak of (the one that doesn't exist currently) does require those meetings. If you are so fed up, do something. Show up at a board meeting and speak, make an appointment with the board. Ranting here won't do a darn thing. If you don't like what's currently being done, step up and find a solution.
Lewis Armistead February 02, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Cops patrolling the halls of every school in the district? That's realistic. You would be the first one to complain about your taxes when the district would have to hire, what would you say, two cops per elementary school, 4 each at the middle schools and about 8 at the high school. I have the solution. Only teachers, administrators, staff, and students are allowed into the buildings. The adults enter with a swipe card at one location. For drop off of students, the schools will set up a "coat check" system outside of the front door. You bring the child to the "coat check", sign your child in, and they enter through metal detectors. When you want to pick up your child you go to the same booth, sort of like "will call" and, after showing proper identification everyday regardless of whether or not the person manning the booth recognizes you, then your child will be escorted out of the building and placed into your loving arms.
billybob February 02, 2013 at 02:54 PM
If she wasn't focused, would she have observed this person at all? Would she have realized that he did not make it to the area? So you would want this person to leave the children unsupervised to go to a door to speak to every visitor that arrives at the school? Apparently she received the training, because of her observation and actions, this person was observed and reported. Great job to her...What would you have done differntly in her position? (Think about the children first before you respond as they would be left alone)
Julie Rohr February 02, 2013 at 03:16 PM
I have your back nicole! Funny how you and I are the only people who use our real names. We don't have to hide behind aliases because we are right. Let's get the hell off this thread and not pay attention to pathetic people.
billybob February 02, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Nicole, do a little research before spewing your silliness, there is a plan in place, and guess what? IT WORKED! The staff member reported the incident, the school did what the are directed to do and the police responded. The state of NJ has a web site with all of the information and protocols that were in fact followed. Step from the soap box, take a deep breath and relax. IT WORKED!
denise winstead February 02, 2013 at 04:15 PM
My child was one of the dozen or so actually inside the building when this went down... As I sit here and scroll through the ridiculousness and the sensible, I think that at 9:05 yesterday morning I would have given ANYTHING to have my son stuck on a school bus wondering what was going on instead of being in the school watching police officers sweep the building! He is ten years old and words like "lockdown" and "school shootings" are part of his daily vocabulary... This is a sad reality but we don't linger on the drama... We learn from it. Unless you are a part of a law enforcement agency you wouldn't know that every incident is used as a learning tool because no plan is foolproof and no incident is textbook. I commend the staff of Cambridge and the SBPD (no, I don't work for either) for their swift and thorough actions yesterday!
denise winstead February 02, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Anyone who listened to the message Dr McCartney sent yesterday could hear how hard it was for him to even have to put that message out... We're adults and we should know to listen to the whole thing before jumping to conclusions. I'm sure a well-written and thought out e-mail to him about how you didn't feel coddled or warm and fuzzy by his message will be taken as constructive criticism for the next time he has to let us all know that the staff and police acted swiftly to ensure the safety of our children. Our children... Because that's what's important, right?! So to whomever wrote that they felt like they were drowning listening to an 'after the fact' message, try standing two blocks away from the school (because that was as close as we could get) watching the school being surrounded by cops. Did I mention my kid was inside???
denise winstead February 02, 2013 at 04:15 PM
And that's my real name...
billybob February 02, 2013 at 04:17 PM
After reading some posts from late last night/early this morning, I believe that the patch should place breathalizer locks on keyboards or shut the comment site down after midnight until six to allow some sobering up. And yes, my name is BillyBob Blame my folks, I do!
billybob February 02, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Well Said!
denise winstead February 02, 2013 at 04:43 PM
The schools and the police are doing the best they can. Resources are limited and new resources are expensive... People live in a fantasy world with a cop in every school ideals. I don't get asked for ID when I go to the school because EVERYONE knows me because I'm involved with many aspects of my kid and his school (and yes, I work full-time and go to school myself). I've seen many people asked for ID and I've seen many people stopped at the door.
denise winstead February 02, 2013 at 04:55 PM
And those are the people that the school never hears from until something goes wrong. Get involved... Be a voice! If you're not happy with the Before/Aftercare program join the parent advisory board instead of criticizing on a public forum. They can't fix what they don't know is broken! We are a part of a public school system so there are many avenues to speak... Where it will do some good. I love this school district and Cambridge. I didn't even know the teachers were without a contract before I read it here... Why, because they all give 110% everyday!
Constable Mom February 04, 2013 at 01:31 AM
I appreciate the way both the school and the police handled the situation. Since Newtown is still fresh in everyone's head, news of an intruder and lock-downs in our schools would definitely throw all of us off. My child is in Constable. Constable also had a lock-down and police did make sure everything was ok in the neighboring school. In all of this, news traveled fast about the COnstable lock-down and as any concerned parent, it was re-assuring to find out that everything was ok. I, however, DO NOT appreciate that the school district made no effort to inform Constable parents that the school was locked-down just in case. The kids saw the police in school, and did come and tell us at home, besides us finding out in the morning from many Cambridge and Constable parents. If the district finds it appropriate to inform us of vans approaching strangers outside of schools, then it goes to the school district's and the South Brunswick Police's credibility that they let the parents know everything they did to show caution, instead of not letting us Constable parents know. I feel highly disconcerted and uninformed!
Cathleen DiBenedetto February 05, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Constable did not have a lock down.....They had a lock out...The police were already scheduled to be at Constabe that day, they were not there because of the lock down at Cambridge.
Tugwalla February 06, 2013 at 10:43 PM
sbmom....I wasn't there but I heard from a very credible source that the SB Police did an excellent job! The issue is with the poor school security and lack of accountability!

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