Innovative Arts school put on lockdown
Police officers were called to Innovative Arts Academy Charter School, 330 Howertown Road, Catasauqua, approximately 7:45 a.m. Jan. 29 for a report of an armed student on the premises.
According to Catasauqua Police Chief Douglas Kish, school administrators were alerted by a student that another student had arrived at school with a handgun in his waistband.
Police arrived on the scene, and the school was put into lockdown. Officers began to clear the school, and the young suspect was taken into custody.
A search of the 12-year-old student revealed he had no weapon, but officers continued to search the premises to be safe. No weapon was found at the school.
According to Kish, the suspect told officers he put the weapon under a trash can near his bus stop at Second and Liberty streets, Allentown.
Members of Allentown Police Department searched the area, and the suspect showed the officers where the weapon was.
The weapon turned out to be a Nerf gun, which shoots foam darts.
Following the discovery of the Nerf weapon, the lockdown on the school was released. According to Kish, the lockdown lasted approximately one to one-and-a-half hours.
Bradley Schifko, interim CEO at IAACS, released a statement to families with details about the incident after its safe conclusion.
“During this time, all of our students and staff were safe, and at no time was their well-being in jeopardy,” he noted.
He urged parents to discuss the incident with their children.
“Emphasize that it is against the law to bring weapons, of any type, to school,” he said. “Also, please emphasize the importance of telling you or a staff member if there is ever any discussion of a weapon at school. Let’s continue to work together to keep our school community safe.”
Kish reported, after consulting with the district attorney’s office, no charges will be filed against the student. He did note school officials will be taking in-house action regarding the incident.
According to Kish, the incident was handled well considering the information provided.
“School officials and officers from Catasauqua and North Catasauqua took the appropriate action considering the information as given to us at each stage of this incident,” he said. “Our first concern is for the safety of the students and staff at the school.”