Aerosol cologne may have caused school delay

WILSON, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Wilson school district was delayed by two hours Friday morning over what was apparently a big misunderstanding.

The superintendent of the district informed parents Friday afternoon that the delay was caused by a report of a student with a weapon.

In a letter sent to students’ parents, Superintendent of Schools Michael Wendt said that Thursday evening he was contacted by one of the district principals. The principal had received calls regarding a Wilson student being in possession of a gun and mace in his backpack on school grounds.

The alleged incident happened Thursday evening during after-school activities.

Parents were told in the letter that the police were immediately contacted and searches were conducted to find any weapon.

Early Friday morning the suspect was still not in police custody so the decision to delay the start of school by two hours was made in order to continue to gather information on whether the rumors were credible.

Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour says deputies searched for the 16-year-old student throughout the night before finding him asleep at his home around 7:15 in the morning. Authorities say they searched his backpack but found no weapons. However, they did find a can of aerosol cologne, which may have been mistaken for mace.

Deputies informed school officials that the danger had been mitigated, so the decision was made to open the school as planned, after the delay. The student is not facing any charges.

The full letter sent to parents is as follows:

Dear Parent(s):

This letter is formal notice to you explaining why the Wilson Central School District had a two hour delay on Friday, January 17, 2014, due to a building security issue.

At 10:00 PM on Thursday, January 16, 2014, I received a call from one of our building principals. He informed me about calls he had received that evening regarding a Wilson student being in possession of a weapon while he was on campus. The alleged incident occurred sometime on Thursday evening while after-school events were going on in the school. The rumor gave us some indication that a student may have brought a weapon on campus. We immediately contacted the police and attempted to make contact with the student in question. We performed searches in the school to determine if any weapons were on campus.

On Friday morning, we met and debriefed around 5:00 AM to determine a proper course of action prior to staff and student arrival. We also met with police. At 5:30 AM, since the suspect in question was still at large, I decided to delay the opening of school in order to gather additional information as to whether or not the rumors were credible. We also performed another search in the building.

I was informed that the suspect in question was under the jurisdiction of police sometime around 7:15 AM. In consultation with the police, we made the decision to move ahead with the opening of school after a two-hour delay.

Although I normally do not make an all-call to parents through our phone voicemail delivery system for a two-hour delay, I decided to do so since we were getting reports that the information was not consistently being displayed in the media. In my voice message to parents, I indicated that I would relay more information as it became available. This letter has hopefully fulfilled that commitment.

Please understand that student personnel issues are confidential and in many cases we are not able to share information regarding specific students. As information becomes available that we are able to share with the public, then we will do so as soon as possible.

Know that we take the safety of our students very seriously and our decision to delay school for two hours allowed us to further investigate the rumors from the night before and further search our building to insure that our students were not put at risk.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this matter.

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