OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Superintendent William Crist said of the arrest of a district employee on Tuesday for allegedly making a bomb threat at Oswego Middle School.
At a joint press conference, city police and district officials announced the arrests of two individuals in two of the four recent bomb threats at OMS and OHS.
One suspect is a 15-year-old OMS student. The other is 23-year-old Aleicia M. Stancliffe.
She was identified by the superintendent as a teacher’s aide at OMS, working as a sign language interrupter for special needs students.
She was just hired last month, he added.
“To some degree, it just hit me like a ton of bricks, quiet honestly,” Crist said. “Students sometimes don’t understand the (full impact) of the choices that they make. To have this happen by a staff member, with full understanding that she had already witnessed other bomb scares taking place within the school district sent tremors through my body.”
He hasn’t spoken to her directly since she was arrested.
Stancliffe has been placed on (paid) administrative leave, the superintendent said. The status of her employment with the district will be determined within the next few days, he added.
“Naturally, she made some statements to us, but this is still under investigation and we respect her rights, too,” Oswego Police Chief Michael Dehm responded when asked if Stancliffe had offered a motive.
The rash of bomb threats has caused a lot of concern, unrest and anguish and “the loss of education that we work daily to provide to our students,” Crist said.
The superintendent said he was impressed with the way the staff and students handled the situations.
“The school district considers all of these threats to be ergregious to the staff and students of the school district. We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law and we will proceed with discipline thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commensurate with the acts that were committed against the students and staff of this school district and community,” Crist said.
The sole interest of the district is to provide a safe, healthy learning environment for all of the students, he said.
“The extent of the disruption that has taken place here is something that we take very, very seriously,” Crist said. “We will continue to look for the people involved in the other situations that occurred here.”
He said the district is working diligently in concert with all the other agencies involved to put an end to the unrest that has disrupted the district the past two weeks.
That’s why working hand-in-hand with other agencies is so important, Chief Dehm noted.
“They have their sources; sometimes, kids do talk to one another. The circumstances of the employee were suspicious and information came across that she would be a good person of interest to talk to,” he said. “It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Police investigators did a fantastic job working with school officials; John Anderson (security), Peter Colucci (business manager) were fantastic during all these events. They were able to look at it and say, ‘you need to talk to this person.'”
It’s hard to put a dollar figure on the loss, Crist noted.
Besides the cost for things like transportation and meals prepared in the cafeteria that had to be thrown out due to health concerns, Crist pointed to the lost academic time for the students.
“It’s my understanding that parents could be held liable for up to $5,000 for costs associated with (the bomb threats),” Crist said.
“Before any child comes to school to learn, they have to come to school knowing that they are in a safe learning environment,” he continued. “For us not to be able to provide that due to the threats that are taking place raises the level of frustration for us as school officials.”
It’s rather impossible to place a dollar amount of the lost education for the students, he added.
The bomb threats took place on October 7, 13 and 15 at Oswego Middle School. And, October 13, at Oswego High School.
Lead officers were Sgt. Kevin Carter and Youth Officer Susan Coffey.
The two threats on Oct. 13 are still under investigation.
The student will be dealt with in Family Court for a crime which, if committed by an adult would amount to Ã¢â‚¬Å“Falsely Reporting an Incident in the First DegreeÃ¢â‚¬Â (a Class D Felony), according to Chief Dehm.
Stancliffe was arraigned on one count of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Falsely Reporting an Incident in the First DegreeÃ¢â‚¬Â (a Class D Felony).
Upon arraignment, Stancliffe was given pre-trial release with a return court date of November 19.