The vulnerability of a Livingston school’s security measures was unexpectedly put to the test last week by an unknown man who later identified himself to be an NBC news reporter, according to school officials.
The unknown man rang the buzzer at the main entrance of Mount Pleasant Middle School on Thursday, Dec. 5, and was permitted to enter the building, Superintendent John Alfieri said. Instead of checking in at the main office, which all visitors are required to do, the man attempted to continue walking through the school's hallways.
When the office secretary saw what was happening, she stopped and questioned the man who was carrying a camera in the shape of a coffee mug.
“Immediately one of our secretaries jumped up and caught him,” Alfieri said.
When the man was questioned, he identified himself as a NBC reporter for the "Today Show" and requested a meeting with the principal. He also provided the school with his driver’s license and contact information.
The reporter was testing the Livingston school’s security measures and procedures for story in relation to the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 school children and to six adults staff members were killed on Dec. 14, 2012.
Additional schools in New Jersey were also tested for the story, according to the district.
While an NBC producer informed the district that Mount Pleasant Middle School’s staff did everything right in regards to its security procedures, Alfieri did not seem pleased that Livingston was used as a guinea pig for the story.
“I’m very proud of how they [the school’s staff] handled it and very proud of how [the staff] acted, I think it just took everyone by shock,” said Alfieri.
“I’m not sure why NBC felt the need to do this. I understand they are trying to do a piece in relation to Sandy Hook’s one-year anniversary, but this just isn’t the piece I was looking for.”
Alfieri added that he was not informed how a Livingston school was chosen for the story.
NBC did not respond to calls for this story.
The episode may have a positive effect on the district, however. Alfieri said the district will look to develop tighter security procedures in the coming weeks in all its schools. The superintendent said these might include specific questions schools will ask visitors before they are allowed to access the building.
“We are proud of our procedures but I’d like to tighten them up even further because I don’t even want that man getting in the building,” said Alfieri. “… We are going to continue to go back and look at those procedures and make sure they are even tighter next time.”