Valley Stream Education News

What to know about the James A. Dever student who brought a pistol to school.


A fifth grade student at James A. Dever Elementary School brought a pistol to school on June 6 according to Superintendent Judith LaRocca. An aide spotted and confiscated the pistol, which was later determined unusable, and the Nassau County Police Department was subsequently contacted.

A police investigation in collaboration with the school confirmed that the weapon was in fact not operable, meaning it is incapable of firing a shot. The investigation also concluded that the student had acquired the pistol from a friend and brought it to school with the intention of showing it to their classmates.

The district stated that the student did not pose a threat to the school at any time and that it will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

District parents were informed of the incident by an email from the superintendent. The email also emphasized the importance of parents speaking to their children about the dangers and consequences of bringing weapons to school, operable or not.

The Parent Handbook for James A. Dever Elementary School includes that each school in Valley Stream District Thirteen “has an emergency plan that addresses risk reduction and prevention and details responses to a variety of emergencies that could occur.” Each school conducts lockdown and lockout drills as part of these plans.

This is not the first incident in recent memory in which an individual possessed a weapon on or near school grounds. On Election Day last year, a security guard saw an individual who was later identified as an active-duty police officer lift his shirt to expose a gun attached to his pants. Law enforcement officials stated that the officer was stopping in to vote before work yet questions remained about whether the officer intended to vote or flash the gun.

In another instance, a retired police officer and grandparent of a Willow Road Elementary School student was spotted armed and stalking the borders of school grounds. Police officers asked the man to leave and he complied; no arrests were made. This incident occurred shortly after the start of the war between Hamas and Israel and according to school officials, the man was concerned about the safety of his grandchild.

Both of these incidents took place at elementary schools in the district.

Valley Stream Union Free School District 13 board member Anthony Bonelli criticized the district in November for a lack of transparency with parents after the second incident, alleging that parents were not contacted.