The incident happened at the Jesse J. Kaplan School on Parrott Road in West Nyack.
Authorities say a fellow staff member noticed a handbag containing what was later identified as a black Ruger .09-mm handgun located in a staff closet. At the time the weapon was found, the classroom was only occupied by fellow staff members.
The school initiated a lockdown, following school protocol, and it was determined by the school principal and the school resource officer (SRO) that the gun was the property of 24-year-old Gillian Jeffords, of Warwick.
The SRO secured the weapon and ensured there were no threat student's safety, and the lockdown was subsequently lifted. At no point was the weapon displayed or used in a threatening manner.
It was determined that Jeffords did have a valid firearms license in both New York and Pennsylvania and a carry permit. Both of those licenses have been confiscated pending a review by a judge.
She is charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds and was released on appearance ticket. She is due back in court on May 7.
The investigation is now being conducted by the Clarkstown Detective Bureau. Investigators say they believe the incident may have been "a mistake," but it is unclear if this is the first time she has brought the gun to school.
The school district posted the following letter on its website:
Dear Parents & Staff,
This morning at 9:02 A.M., the administration at the Jesse J. Kaplan School initiated a 911 call. The Kaplan Principal confiscated a handgun from an employee. Clarkstown Police secured the weapon and have questioned the employee, and removed her from the campus. Students and staff are safe. The safety and welfare of our Rockland BOCES community is always our top priority. Anyone with questions is advised to contact the Superintendent's Office - 845-627-4701. Rockland BOCES is working with Clarkstown Police on the investigations.
Mary Jean Marsico, Ed. D. Chief Operating Officer Rockland BOCES
Charlene Jordan, Ed. D. District Superintendent Rockland BOCES
Sources say the teacher is a new hire this year who started in September. She has been fired.
The school is for profoundly developmentally disabled children ages 5 to 18.
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