NBC Connecticut has confirmed a school district investigation is underway in New Britain after two students brought weapons to the Frank DiLoreto Magnet School in mid-April. School sources have questions about how the incident was handled by the principal.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters obtained a copy of the letter that was sent to fourth-grade families by the principal of the school; Alejandro Ortiz. It states two fourth grade boys were immediately suspended after bringing a box cutter and knife to school.
But sources familiar with the situation said there’s much more to the story.
The boys’ plan, according to sources, was to harm students and staff, with a specific threat on one female teacher.
“I’m in shock, the school isn’t known for any of that,” New Britain parent Edna Ramos told NBC Connecticut.
Ramos didn’t know anything about the incident or the letter. There’s no date on the notice, but two sources familiar with the situation said the incident happened on Tuesday April 17, 2018, and the letter went home a week later on April 24, 2018.
The students were initially suspended for three days, but sources said after a meeting at school, it was changed to an eight day suspension. According to district policy bringing these kinds of weapons to school is a felony and is subject to expulsion.
Ramos said she is shocked. “I know they didn’t have a shut down or anything," she said.
Ramos’ 6-year-old daughter is in kindergarten. Ramos now has questions for those in charge at school.
“They should’ve just notified everyone, not just the fourth grade, fourth grade, first grade, second grade and kindergarten all those kids walk through the same halls,” Ramos added.
Sources said the principal had no plans of notifying impacted staff after the incident or calling police or the Department of Children and Families.
Sources told NBC Connecticut it was a teacher who first contacted DCF and police two days after the incident, adding “It was not handled appropriately or in a timely manner and lives were at stake. The kids are terrified and unfocused and it is not a healthy atmosphere.”
New Britain Police said they were called April 19th. Officers investigated a threat and it was turned over to the youth division here at police headquarters. Officers followed up with the families and determined everyone was safe at the time.
New Britain superintendent Nancy Sarra declined an on camera interview. In a statement, Sarra told NBC Connecticut “our primary goal is to ensure the safety of all New Britain students and staff. We are currently in the process of an internal investigation and are working to bring it to a close as soon as possible.”
Parents we spoke with are divided in their feelings about how this was handled. While some were upset, others told us they’re satisfied with the response and trust how the principal dealt with the situation.
Sixth grade dad Phil Lewis didn’t realize anything happened until we showed him the letter.
“I know the kids were probably dealt with,” Lewis stated.
NBC Connecticut has tried to speak with Principal Ortiz by phone and email and has not heard back.
Three school board members for the district told us they had not been made aware of the incident. District officials expect an update next week.