Approximately 500 students in Edison returned to class on Wednesday after a fire destroyed their school building.


Monroe Principal Lynda Zapoticzny hugs a student arriving at Middlesex Community College for class (Rob Rivera, Quo Vadis Newspaper (Middlesex County College))

Nearby Middlesex County College is offering classrooms to teachers and students of the James Monroe Elementary School in Edison, starting on Wednesday. The displaced faculty and students will be housed in two unused buildings that are slated to be torn down.

Students were being bused from the Herbert Hoover Middle School to Middlesex Community College, according to the Edison Public School website.

Principal Lynda Zapoticzny offered hugs to students as they got off the buses.“Watching our children get off the bus and seeing their excitement made me realize it really doesn’t matter where we are. It’s not about the building. It’s about us. It’s about us as a community,” Zapoticzny told

"They are welcome to stay here for as long as they need to," school president Joann Laperla-Morales told News 12 New Jersey.

Police say custodian Jerome Higgins tossed an unfinished cigarette into a trash can in the janitor's office Saturday evening, sparking the blaze that gutted the 50-year-old school.

Higgins has been issued a summons accusing him of smoking in a public building, which is a disorderly persons offense. He's been placed on administrative leave.



The Associated Press contributed to this report