Open Forum for Lockdown Malfunction

Administration addresses student and staff questions about the Lockdown

The front entrance of NVOT.

Nia Watson

The front entrance of NVOT.

Unlike the normal monthly lockdown drills, NVOT recently experienced one was not initiated through the panic button in the main office that also lasted longer than a typical lockdown. The emergency system went into lockdown mode this past Thursday, December 5, lasting roughly 20 minutes of lunchtime. 

Being that the incident occurred during lunch, confusion and concern spread throughout the school since neither staff, students, nor parents knew the details or origin of the situation. The police responded immediately, while administration and security followed the official lockdown protocol, treating the situation as if it were a legitimate emergency. 

Principal Bruce Sabatini sent out two emails the same day to students and parents notifying them that “the malfunction of our lockdown system has been identified by the company that installs and maintains our lockdown notification system. The Northern Valley Regional High School District is working with the company to correct the issue.”

Friday, December 6, students were notified that members of the administration would hold two question-and-answer sessions in the auditorium during lunch, where students would have a chance to ask any further questions or clear up their concerns. Assistant principals Jennifer Mezzina and Robert Hyman, superintendent James Santana, and assistant superintendent Deborah Sarmir were all present to answer any further questions.

During the meeting, Sabatini and Hyman re-addressed information that was previously stated in emails and announcements explaining that the lockdown was a “technological failure or glitch that occurred in the system that was not activated by any student or staff member at NVOT.”

Santana also informed students that “the same issue occurred to another school two weeks ago,” but that the company failed to notify NVOT directly after it happened. He added, “We very politely told the company to notify the other schools about what happened here,” so that the same situation can be avoided in the future.

Hyman added that any students who were not able to attend the forum can “come talk directly to [administrators]” to clear up any misunderstandings.

Sabatini sent out a final email on Friday evening to review what was discussed at the meeting, as well as dispel any rumors surrounding the incident.