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Board president: Police, staff protected pupils

By Jennifer Ortiz
Staff Writer

HOWELL – The president of the Howell K-8 School District Board of Education thanked police officers and district employees for their “professionalism and dedication” during a recent incident at Howell Middle School North, Squankum-Yellowbrook Road.

Howell police said that on the morning of Jan. 26, two of the school’s pupils were taken into custody after building administrators received information concerning threatening comments that had been made by text messages regarding an alleged shooting that might take place at the school.

No information about the two students’ gender or age and no information about the punishment they have faced or may face as a result of their alleged involvement in the matter was provided by police.

Police determined that several students were involved in a group chat and that two members of the group engaged in threats of violence at the school.

The school had a delayed opening on Jan. 26 because of a blizzard that occurred the previous weekend. The extra time before school began gave police a chance to secure the building. When students arrived, staff members searched the lockers and bags of the students who were believed to have been involved in the group chat, according to police. No weapons were found. The two students were taken into custody and normal activities resumed, according to police.

Howell school board President Tim O’Brien thanked the police officers and school staff members who took the action that was needed to ensure the safety of all students.

“I was very impressed with everyone at the scene,” O’Brien said. “I want to thank them for their professionalism and dedication to our children’s safety and well-being. We have had a long-standing partnership with the Howell Police Department (and the) benefits (of that partnership) were demonstrated the other day. I commend Chief (Andrew) Kudrick and all of his officers for their swift response and their ability to react quickly and precisely to make sure our schools were safe. I also commend everyone who was involved, our staff, from the superintendent on down, for their professionalism and the way they conducted themselves.”

O’Brien said that as a member of the school board and a parent, he takes  comfort in knowing there are outstanding professionals who are working to keep the district’s children safe.

Kudrick said it is important for all students to be aware of the consequences of their words and actions.

“The police department takes all matters regarding school violence extremely seriously. The safety of our school community, both teachers and students, is paramount. We will do everything in our power to protect our children and investigate the matter thoroughly,” he said.

“The Howell Police Department regularly engages in training and practical exercises for matters such as these. We work very closely with school officials and the Board of Education and are very fortunate to have developed such a close working relationship. As a result, this matter was resolved quickly and allowed the school to resume its normal activities,” Kudrick said.

Kudrick thanked parents for their cooperation on Jan. 26, saying that “in matters such as these, parents responding to the school en masse can be more problematic than the incident itself.”

Howell detectives, representatives of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and school administrators are continuing to investigate what occurred. Police said at this time there is no indication that students or staff members were in danger at any time. Police said the threats that were made are not believed to have been credible.

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