Lawrence Middle School evacuated due to gas leak

Water cleaned from boiler on Friday


The day after students and personnel were evacuated from Lawrence Middle School due to a gas leak on March 13, repairs were underway, said District Superintendent Gary Schall.

Administrators, teachers and students returned to the building on Friday for a regular day of school.

"The water was purged from the boiler [Friday] morning and a harmless odor was emitted and dissipated after 20 minutes," Schall said. "With everyone at a heightened level of concern we cancelled morning activities in the auditorium which is right above the boiler."

Following the evacuation of Lawrence Middle School on Thursday students were taken to the Number Four School and Our Lady of Good Counsel, both in Inwood.

Middle School Principal Willis Perry said this was his first time having to evacuate a school. "Everyone came together to get the children out," said Perry, adding that moving them out of the building was a safety measure.

Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Chief John McHugh said the gas leak was reported at 10:37 a.m. The students were sheltered in place in the school's auditorium in the rear of the building as it was determined that the leak was in the piping in the front of the building, McHugh said. “The gas meter was secured and the heating system which is partially powered by the gas was shutoff so there was no heat," McHugh said.

School district and National Grid officials made the decision to move the students due for the need to begin repairs, Schall said.

The school's fifth- and six-graders were taken to the Number Four School. The seventh- and eighth-graders are at the church, where Christine Moore, the middle school's Pupil Personnel Services supervisor and a teacher greeted parents and guardians before the children were picked up. The middle school on Broadway in Lawrence and holds approximately 700 students in grades fifth through eighth.

Ilene Parnes, who's daughter Lucy is a sixth-grader, received the district call about the incident. "I was nervous," she said. "My daughter was at a science event and wasn't at the school at the time. I called her, then called the school. It was a big chaotic mess."

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