No answers from officials after 5th-graders plot set off explosive at Clifton High
Clifton school officials say there was never any danger to their staff and students after a group of fifth-graders were caught Wednesday with an alleged plot to set off an explosive at Clifton High School.
But officials haven't said much else — multiple calls and emails by New Jersey 101.5 to Clifton Police, the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office and Clifton school superintendent Richard Tardalo have gone unanswered this week. New Jersey 101.5 most recently called each authority Friday morning.
Clifton school superintendent Richard Tardalo posted a statement about the incident on the front page of the district website late this week:
The District Administration received a call from the Principal at School # 11 on Wednesday morning December 2, 2015 regarding a possible threat to the students at Clifton High School. The Clifton Police department was called immediately to investigate. The Police Department questioned the students involved and determined that there was no immediate danger to the students at Clifton High School or School Eleven. There was never any danger to any of the students and staff at School #11 or at Clifton High School, at any time. The Clifton School System always places the safety of students and staff first. The police and the prosecutor’s office are still in the process of completing this investigation.
But the statement didn't address whether parents were notified at the time — several say they weren't. It also didn't address whether any facilities were evacuated or checked by police before students were let back in, as is typical in the case of a bomb threat.
Police have previously said the students had a device filled with vinegar and cinnamon that could not have actually exploded. But Detective Sgt. Robert Bracken reportedly told NJ Advance Media the student were serious in their intent to do harm.
"It was not a prank," Bracken said, according to the report. "They had a legitimate plan."
CBS New York reports that the plot involved four boys and one girl. A fellow fifth grader told the station, "They have good grades, they listen and they haven’t really gotten in trouble.”
Police said earlier this week the students had not been charged at the time; it's not clear if that's changed in the time since. It's also not clear what motivated the students, whether they had outside help or where the design for their attempt at an explosive device came from.