Police investigating, will be present at schools Friday

DUDLEY — Police are investigating after an empty .22 caliber firearm clip was found in a school bus glove compartment on Thursday afternoon.

Dudley-Charlton Regional School Superintendent Gregg J. Desto confirmed the matter in an open letter to parents and guardians on Thursday evening. Mr. Desto wrote that a “routine search” of the First Student school bus uncovered the firearm clip, and it was “immediately brought to my office where Dudley Police were waiting to investigate.”

Mr. Desto pointed out that the school bus is not used exclusively for the regional school district, but is also utilized for other schools as well as colleges, weddings, and other outings. He added that due to the various uses of the bus, “there is no indication of how long the clip was in the bus or by whom it was placed there. There is a strong likelihood that this had nothing to do with any of our students.”

In the continued fallout of the tragic school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month, such events carry an added weight. Mr. Desto assured parents and guardians that police in both Charlton and Dudley will investigate the matter and that “all buses in both towns have been searched thoroughly and are ready to transport our students safely tomorrow morning.”

He added: “We are all on edge lately in the wake of the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida. I, too, am a parent, and I love and worry about my kids like anyone else. Partly because I am a fellow parent, I understand the need to notify you of this and any other abnormal situation that affects our schools. But I know the people in our schools; I know the protocols we have in place; and I know the skill and professionalism of our police departments. I am extremely confident that we will have a safe and productive day of school tomorrow.”

While no known threats have been made and, Mr. Desto said, “there is truly no more reason for concern tomorrow than any other day, in order to provide an added layer of peace of mind for our students, staff and families, there will be increased police presence in all of our schools tomorrow.”

Mr. Desto noted he will keep parents and guardians updated “in a timely fashion” as “any additional information that impacts student safety becomes available.”

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