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Police Stop Fifth-Graders' Plot to Blow Up High School

The Short of It

It's unthinkable, but allegedly fifth-graders from Clifton, N.J., planned to blow up a high school.

The Lowdown

Their plot wouldn't have worked, say police, but the intent was there. Authorities found an explosive device filled with cinnamon and vinegar after teachers discovered written plans of five 10- and 11-year-olds. The plans detailed a plot to blow up Clifton High during a field trip Wednesday.

"Their intent was to bring the device to school and cause damage inside the auditorium where people were," said Clifton Detective Sgt. Robert Bracken.

Parents are upset they didn't find out about the incident until Thursday when the district sent out an automated phone message. Superindent Richard Tardalo has not yet commented on the incident. The scare comes at a time when schools in Clifton are already looking to beef up security measures, from installing surveillance cameras to hiring an outside security firm to assess more ways schools can be safe.

The students, reportedly four boys and one girl, were suspended and released to their parents. At this point, the incident is being treated as more than just a prank.

Students in Clifton have had mixed reactions to the plot. Some find it funny, while others are understandably spooked.

"It's kind of scary because everything that's happening in the world, and then we're not even safe in our own school," one unnamed student told The Record.

The Upshot

Some parents kept kids home Thursday—or considered it. "If you can't tell me my kids are safe, I will keep them safe," Mom, Maria Badjas, told The Record.

When Badjas met with a vice principal Thursday: "They said they didn't want to blow it out of proportion and the media's making it worse. Parents need answers."

I know I would expect more than just an automated phone message if this happened in our town. I'm not sure if I would keep my child home, but I know in this current climate of anything can happen, I would worry every second she was away from me.

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