Rockland-area district to again consider police officer in schools

By Stephen Betts | Jan 07, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Regional School Unit 13 Board has a new meeting room at the former library of South School in Rockland. The administration will also be moving its offices to South School in the summer. McLain School will be turned over to Rockland when the school district vacates the building.

Rockland — Next month, the Rockland-area school board will again discuss whether to have a police officer assigned to its schools.

Superintendent John McDonald said this time, however, the district will consider whether to pay for the resource officer on its own, rather than from a federal grant.

The Regional School Unit 13 Board voted 6-2 April 5 to authorize the superintendent to "engage in a partnership" with the Rockland Police Department for a school resource officer to serve the two schools in the city.

The City Council voted unanimously May 14 to apply for a federal grant to help pay for an officer to be in the schools.

But the U.S. Department of Justice put a hold on awarding grants to pay for communities to have officers in the schools. The pause in issuance of grants is the result of lawsuits being filed by several states over conditions placed on the grants by the federal government in regard to enforcing immigration laws.

The states are trying to block the federal government from requiring that grant recipients agree to enforce all immigration laws and cooperate with the federal government.

The board talk will come as the administration develops a proposed 2019-2020 budget to present to board members.

Since the school board's vote in April, there have been two instances of potential threats against schools in Rockland. An earlier incident occurred in March.

In May, 61-year-old man Brandon M. Luzzi, who lived across from South School in Rockland, told an acquaintance he was hearing voices telling him to shoot up a school. The threat resulted in a lockdown for several schools.

The suspect was committed to a mental health facility, but has since been released and charged with felony terrorizing. He is free on bail and is working in New York as a tugboat captain.

On Dec. 20, Isiah B. Perry was arrested and has since been charged with misdemeanor terrorizing.

According to an affidavit filed in court by the Rockland Police Department, Perry had made a threat via texts that he would shoot a 14-year-old Thomaston girl and then said he would shoot up Oceanside High School.

Perry remains in custody.

And in March, 20-year-old Thomas Sawyer was charged with terrorizing for making  statements on social media, threatening to shoot up Oceanside High School.

A deferred disposition was reached in July that would have had him sentenced in July 2019 to 120 days in jail if he refrained from further criminal conduct and participated in a restorative justice program. Sawyer was later charged with unrelated additional crimes.

The school board has relocated its meeting room from the McLain School in Rockland to the former library at South School in Rockland. The first meeting at South School was held Jan. 3.

The meetings are expected to air on educational access channel 1302 as well as being streamed live.

There are also multiple large screens in the new meeting room for when written or graphic presentations are made.

The board has used McLain School for meetings for about 20 years, and before that had met at the library of Rockland District High School.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Jan 07, 2019 12:29

America loves its guns more than it loves its children. Americans own millions of guns. Police officers in schools are not going to stop shootings as the proliferation of privately owned weapons continues unabated.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jan 07, 2019 07:51

Great new meeting room with overhead tv and complete sound system. It’s the very best YOUR money can buy. We have modern new facilities, but I wonder how much is going to actually teach your children

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