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South Orange/Maplewood — News

Residents Angry Over False Code Red at Marshall School

Mike Kylis

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 • 6:57am

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - South Orange and Maplewood parents and teachers expressed anger and frustration over a false code red alarm at Marshall School in South Orange that failed to alert police to what appeared to be an armed intruder. Marshall serves grades kindergarten though second grade.

The alarm is supposed to lock all school doors and immediately notify the police. School officials were unaware that the alarm is not, in fact, connected to the police department. 
 
"That functionality is not yet operational," said outgoing Superintendant Brian Osborne before teachers and parents spoke. "Yet the school believed that it was. We really need to get to the bottom of why exactly that was."
 
"The emergency lockdown button is not connected to the South Orange Police Department and did not lock the doors from the outside," stated Greenberg. "As of today, June 16th, It is still not connected."
 
At approximately 11:40 a.m. on June 6th, the alarm was accidentally set off, prompting school officials to follow protocol, which includes securing all students, turning off lights, pulling shades, and securing all doors.
 
"A code red is enacted  in the event of an armed threat to a building," said Marshall School teacher, Bebe Greenberg. 
 
The timing of the alarm, during school lunch when students are in the cafeteria and outside on the playground, lead teachers and students to conclude that it was a real threat and not a drill, Greenberg said.
 
The code red alarm failed to notify police. The South Orange Police arrived on the scene 10 to 12 minutes later when  a 911 call was placed by a teacher. Greenberg said that only two police officers arrived. They seemed unaware of the exact protocol and had never been to Marshall School before.
 
Maplewood resident Susan Parker was visibly angry. "What are you going to do about it? I want to know protocols. I want to know policies. I want to know procedures," she scolded. "I want to know when that damn button is going to be hooked up!” 
 
A similar incident happen at Seth Boyden Demonstration School on May 21st.
 
According to a memo sent out by Principal Mark J. Quiles:
 
"At approximately 1:20 p.m., someone accidentally set off an alarm which then automatically triggered a code red lockdown.  During the lockdown, all students and staff (including the main office staff) went into lockdown mode and hid out of sight.  When I called the police to let them know it was an accident, they informed me that they cannot disregard the alarm even if triggered accidentally.  They have to proceed as if I were under duress and forced to make a phone call by an intruder.  I understood and followed procedure."
 
None of these procedures seem to have been followed at Marshall. 

 

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