WOONSOCKET – The School Department on Thursday issued a warning to parents to be on the alert after multiple incidents of suspicious people approaching local students near their schools.
Patrick McGee, director of curriculum, and Peter Fontaine, director of security and facilities, put out the warning to parents through the department’s communication system after meeting with Police Detective Matt Ryan on the incidents.
“Detective Matt Ryan has made us aware of suspicious male
adults that have been driving or walking around our neighborhood schools trying to encourage students to get into the car with them or walk away with them,” the school officials wrote in the notification to parents and guardians. “We ask that you discuss with your children that under no circumstances are they to get into a car or go with anyone they do not know. We ask that all parents/guardians discuss the serious nature of this situation and that if their children are walkers, we ask that the children walk in groups to and from school,” the school officials said.
“We also ask the parent/guardians to reinforce the seriousness of this situation and that the students are to report any suspicious activity to their parent/guardian, teachers, administrators and police department,” they said.
The notification concluded with the school officials thanking the public for “their vigilance in this matter. Our joint efforts will help to keep our children safe. As the situation warrants, we will keep everyone updated,” they said.
School Committeewoman Anita McGuire-Forcier said committee members had also been notified about at least two separate incidents at the middle school and at an elementary school in which adult males apparently sought to encourage students to get into their cars. In one of the incidents, a student was asked to pet a dog in the attempt to lure them into a car, she said.
“It is very frightening,” McGuire-Forcier said while noting police are investigating the incidents, and more information should be available as the investigation continues.