Teacher’s aide from Warwick charged with bringing loaded gun into Rockland school

| 29 Mar 2018 | 01:37

A teacher’s aide from Warwick was arrested Wednesday after police say they found a loaded handgun in her handbag at a Rockland County BOCES school.
According to the police, an employee at the Jesse L. Kaplan School in West Nyack saw a handgun in a handbag in a staff closet and alerted the principal. The principal initiated a lock down and Clarkstown police responded to the school at around 9 a.m.
The school resource officer, Michael Maloney, was able to secure the firearm — a black Ruger 9mm handgun. Police then arrested teacher’s aide Gillian L. Jeffords, 24, of Warwick, charging her with criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds, a Class E felony.
A majority of the students had not arrived at the school yet, according to Rockland BOCES Chief Operating Officer Mary Jean Marsico, so buses were diverted from the building to a secure location until the lock down ended. Once the gun was secured and confiscated by police, the school canceled the lock down and resumed its normal schedule.
At the time the weapon was found, the classroom was only occupied by fellow staff members, according police, and at no point was the weapon displayed or used in a threatening manner by Jeffords.
Through their investigation, the Clarkstown police determined that Jeffords was licensed to carry a concealed firearm in New York and Pennsylvania. Both of those licenses have been confiscated and a review of the licenses will be conducted by a judge.
Jeffords was released on her recognizance.
ReactionThe Jesse L. Kaplan School is a BOCES school serving students from 5 to 21 years old with significant disabilities from six counties. Due to the vulnerable population they serve, Marsico said at a press conference that the first thing that came to her mind was the challenge that comes with initiating a lock down and moving their students out of the school.
“You’re always worried that no matter how many drills you have, you’re not ready,” said Rockland BOCES District Superintendent Charlene Jordan at the press conference. “What I can say, and I think the Clarkstown Police can back us up on this, is that the way that the protocols were put into place and the way that the principal and the administrators and the staff secured, went into lock down and followed the procedures, was what we would hope would happen in an incident like that.”
Marsico said that at no time was anybody in harm’s way, and that after the lock down, she personally checked every classroom to ensure that every child and staff member was safe.
Teacher’s aideAs for the teacher’s aide, Jeffords has been suspended with pay, according to Scott Salotto, the director of communications and governmental relations for Rockland BOCES. He said Jeffords started work at BOCES in September 2017.
“To our knowledge, there was nothing alarming that had ever been mentioned about this individual,” Salotto said.
There will be a disciplinary hearing process involving the union and the school’s attorney to determine the school’s next action regarding her employment there, according to Salotto.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and that officers are looking into why Jeffords allegedly brought the gun to the school and whether she had brought it previously. Police would not disclose if she had a criminal history.
Jeffords is scheduled to appear in Clarkstown Criminal Court on May 7 at 1 p.m.