Bathroom Fires Cause Paterson School to Tighten Security

PATERSON, N.J. – Officials at John F. Kennedy High School plan to increase security, which includes locking restrooms, due to restroom fires and triggered fire alarms.

Four female Kennedy students, ages ranging from 14-15, were each charged with two counts of second-degree arson after three fires were discovered in the school’s restrooms Oct. 22.

There was minimal damage to the restrooms; however, the fires triggered the fire alarms, forcing students and faculty to evacuate the campus five times throughout the morning.

Fire alarms were also set off by students stuffing paper in the smoke detectors and setting it on fire.

The first alarm went off at approximately 9:45 a.m., with the other alarms following shortly after school was back to order. District officials stated that classes went back to normal after noon.

Students, faculty and parents alike were frustrated with the disruptions.

While the bathroom fires are serious, it appears to be minor compared to September’s arson at School 15. The arson caused the school to close for several days.

Officials believe that the fires were a protest of the recent implementation of block scheduling at the school. The new schedule will cut lunch time to 20 minutes, the main reason for the uproar.

Police are still looking for other suspects connected with the fires. They were able to charge the four girls after security cameras caught one of the girls fleeing the scene. When questioned by a security officer, she revealed her alleged accomplices. The security cameras are moveable and discreet, which is instrumental in preventing incidents, as well as catching those who perform the crime, officials said.

The girls will be charged to the fullest extent of the law, officials stated. Juveniles convicted of second-degree arson face up to a maximum of three years in a juvenile detention center.

The school district hopes to scare off would-be offenders with the prosecution against the suspects.

The majority of restrooms will be closed, says the school district. Those that are not will be heavily monitored.

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