Two Niagara Falls elementary students carry BB gun near school

Feb 28, 2018

Two Niagara Falls City School students were suspended for carrying a BB gun with them on the way to school Tuesday. The third graders attend Abate Elementary School.  A concerned parent notified the school.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the issue of school safety continues to be debated in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shootings. 

"I'm hopeful the students all understand the severity of what these two students did and what could happen," Mark Lauuire, superintendent, Niagara Falls City Schools said.

Outside the Abate Elementary School in the city of Niagara Falls.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Superintendent Lauurie tells WBFO News the students the two students admitted to leaving a BB gun at abandoned property on Willow Avenue across the street from their school. 

Police and the parents were notified. The students were given appearance tickets. Lauurie said school safety is being discussed in all the city of Niagara Falls classrooms.

“There have been faculty meetings held throughout the school district. We have school resource officers now stationed, not only at Niagara Falls High School, but our two prep schools and our community ed center. We don’t have any resource officers stationed at the elementary school,” remarked Lauurie.   

Inside a classroom at the Abate Elementary School.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Lauurie said he walked all the elementary schools with the city of Niagara Falls Police chief Monday. They greeted students and staff, checking on security measures.

“Certainly I’m not in favor of arming teachers – that’s not the role of a teacher – I’m dead set against that,” Lauurie explained. “I think providing school funding to provide a school resource officer who is trained and alert and ready in all those safety procedures to as many as our schools as possible is the way to go, in addition to that we have to have the stamina to continue our vigilance, because what fears me the most is that in a couple of weeks or a couple of months when things quiet down and the conversation changes to something else, that’s when we lose our stamina, lose our attention, lose our vigilance and something could happen anywhere.”   

The BB gun was located and secured, but was never on school property.

Lauurie is highly supportive of school resource officers to help protect schools, but he also announced that the district has started to offer "Mental Health” first aid training program. It’s an eight hour training course to help teachers and staffers identify signs of a student in crisis.

Inside Niagara Falls High School.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

“That a student who is exhibiting a change in their behavior – different behavior, anger behavior, more withdrawn behavior, isolated behavior and then know how the referral process should work and what they can do. That really has become the new curriculum in schools, I think,” Lauurie responded.  

The first 180-staffers will be taking the mental health first aid training course on March 10th.  Lauurie said the district is working to expand it for all staffers, parents and even students in the future.