Concerned parents and community members are seeking answers from the Kingston City School District following a mid-December incident at M. Clifford Miller Middle School where a student shot a BB gun in a boys’ bathroom. School officials said the student involved in the incident has been suspended in accordance with district rules, but some are accusing the district of not taking it seriously enough.
The KCSD addressed the incident in a Dec. 22 post on its official Facebook page.
“On Tuesday, December 18, 2018 it was reported to M. Clifford Miller Middle School administration that a student was in possession of a BB gun,” read the post. “The building administration immediately removed that student from the student population and were able to confiscate the BB gun. During the subsequent investigations, it was learned that the student had discharged the BB gun in one of the boys bathrooms the previous day. The student in question has been suspended and will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Kingston City School District Code of Conduct.”
The district has two different codes of conduct: The Jefferson Student Code of Conduct is specifically geared toward students at Kingston High, while the KCSD Code of Conduct is applicable districtwide, including at the middle school level. The latter code of conduct identifies four separate levels of inappropriate and disruptive behaviors, with “Bringing and/or possessing unauthorized weapons or explosives to school or a school-sponsored activity” the first offense listed on the fourth, most severe level.
The code of conduct, adopted in 2017, identifies numerous potential interventions for a level four infraction, including long-term suspension or expulsion, alternative education placement, functional behavioral assessment, and a behavioral intervention plan. Beyond what was noted in their official statement, the district has thus far declined to elaborate on the incident or the subsequent fallout.
The Town of Ulster Police Department on Wednesday confirmed that they’d been notified about the incident by the district, but could not offer any information to the media because those allegedly involved are minors.
The district’s response to the incident and its notification system have cone under scrutiny in the wake of the incident, with some taking to the original KCSD Facebook post to ask why it had come four days later.
“And yet the school failed to inform parents until now after someone went public with this information,” wrote Kingston resident Sarah Lee. “How as parents are we supposed to feel safe sending our kids to the school if you neglect to keep us informed on things related to their safety?”
Ruby resident Stephanie Kilmon wrote, “KCSD — Both of my daughters attend your school. I get phone calls about scrapes on the playground, missing homework assignments, absent days, and all sorts of other concerns … but not so much as a text about this incident? It’s heresy. My kids can barely get away with checking their phones to see if I texted them, how TF is a kid getting away with bringing a weapon to school and bullying other kids with it? Get your shit together before you have blood on your hands.”
And Heather Leigh wrote, “Yet this is only being mentioned today. And ONLY because parents were informed via social media and not from the school district themselves. It’s absolutely disgraceful how this was handled, by the same people that ask we trust they hold our children’s safety as a priority.”
Elsewhere, local education advocacy group Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) posted to their own Facebook page on Wednesday, Jan. 2, the following statement: “For all the parents, staff and community members who were upset by the gun incident at Miller Middle School and the lack of notifications and unknowns please voice those concerns timely and appropriately. Meaning, call and/or email the Principal and Vice-Principal at Miller, [Superintendent] Dr. [Paul] Padalino and the BOE members. All phone numbers and emails can be found on the district website. Please do not call and yell at their secretaries.”
They went on to ask that anyone concerned should attend the next meeting of the school board, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9 at the Cioni Building on Crown Street.
“Trust me, they want to hear from you,” said the KAFE statement. “Everyone is concerned. Nobody wants a Columbine or Sandy Hook incident in Kingston.”
Superintendent Padalino could not be reached for comment by Wednesday afternoon.