Cumberland’s school superintendent informed parents Wednesday that there have been three incidents in the last week in which a student either brought a weapon to school or threatened to do so.

MSAD 51 Superintendent Jeffrey Porter said the incidents occurred at Greely High School and at the Greely Middle School that houses sixth- through eighth-graders. He did not provide detail about the type of weapon brought to school, according to a copy of the Parent Safety Update alert obtained by the Press Herald.

“In all these cases, other students immediately reported this information to a staff member, resulting in the school administration swiftly intervening and resolving the incidents,” Porter said in the statement. “I commend the students in all three situations who noticed that something didn’t quite seem right and alerted school personnel right away.”

Porter did not elaborate on what action was taken, whether local police were notified, or whether the students were disciplined. Porter did not respond to messages Wednesday evening seeking more detail.

“We have noticed an increase in worrisome behaviors from some of our students, which has prompted more referrals for risk assessments than we typically see at this point in the school year,” Porter wrote to the school community. He said the school district has a team of mental health professionals and administrators who try to identify students who could benefit from additional support.

“As there have been three separate incidents within a short period of time, and because this is a relatively uncommon occurrence in our district, I felt it was important to bring this to your attention and to ask for your help,” Porter continued.

He asked parents and guardians to remind children not to bring items to school that are inappropriate for a public setting, and to seek out school staff for help when feeling frustrated or upset. MSAD 51 includes Cumberland North Yarmouth.

Porter said he is aware that the incidents come at a sensitive moment, given that Dec. 14 will be the ninth anniversary of a gunman’s attack at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 students and staff. Porter also mentioned last week’s shootings at a Michigan high school, where a student shot and killed four people and injured seven others.

He acknowledged that his letter might prompt more questions than answers, and he encouraged parents to contact their child’s school administrator, counselor or social worker.

“We take matters of school safety very seriously. We utilize all of our resources in preparation for, and response to, breaches of expected behavior with regards to the safety of our school community,” Porter said. “Our district’s safety and security committee regularly develops and reviews emergency plans, protocols, and processes in coordination with local first responders.”

The Maine Department of Education did not respond to questions Wednesday night about whether similar incidents have occurred at other schools.

Results of the 2021 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, which has in the past asked students whether they have brought weapons to school, among other questions related to their health and behaviors, do not appear to be available yet, according to its website.

It was unclear Wednesday whether other school districts are experiencing similar student behavior, but in April police said a student brought a loaded handgun to the Marcia Buker Elementary School in Richmond. Richmond Police Chief James Donnell said the student “self reported” the incident and brought the weapon to a staff member. Police said no threats were made toward anyone at the school.

On Tuesday evening an altercation between two students at Oak Hill Middle School in Sabattus revealed that one of the students had a weapon. Police are investigating.

During the district board of directors meeting Wednesday night, Superintendent Andrew Carlton addressed the incident but provided little additional information.

“I need to make it really clear that at no time was there a threat made to the building or anyone in the building, however, it was a scary situation for everybody,” he said. “I really can’t say much more with regards to that due to confidentiality and other issues.”

Sun Journal Staff Writers Joaquin Contreras and Vanessa Paolella contributed to this report.


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