A confrontation Wednesday between a parent and the principal of an Arlington elementary school led police to take precautionary measures at the school and go to the man’s home and remove his gun, officials said.
The incident followed a meeting at Stratton Elementary School between Robert Goodwin, 40, who has a child at the school, and principal Michael Hanna. During the argument, Goodwin allegedly displayed his gun permit and disclosed that he had access to firearms at his home, Arlington police said.
Hanna contacted the school resource officer about the incident, who reported it to police, Chief Frederick Ryan said in a phone interview Friday. Police were notified Thursday morning that the confrontation had taken place.
The reason behind the argument was not detailed Friday, and Hanna and Goodwin could not be reached for comment.
Many parents were outraged to find out about the incident through local news reports. By Friday night, there had been no notice issued to parents about the altercation or the safety precautions at the school, which included posting officers there.
While not officially notified of the incident, some parents had heard rumors that “a parent made an implicit threat of gun violence,” said Susan Ryan Vollmar, whose daughter attends Stratton and who was not present during the confrontation.
“It’s a small school community,” she said. “People talk.”
Goodwin is not currently facing any charges, police said. After an interview Friday, police suspended Goodwin’s gun license and had him surrender his firearm, Ryan said.
A no-trespass order on Stratton Elementary's campus was issued by school officials to Goodwin, and police officers were stationed at the school on Thursday and Friday, Ryan said.
Two teachers at Stratton, who spoke under condition of anonymity because they were concerned over any consequences from school officials, said some of the school staff was called to a meeting Friday morning just before the start of the day.
The staff members were told about the incident for the first time at the meeting and were informed about the no-trespass order. They had not been made aware of the police presence at the school the day before.
“We were surprised that we were not informed about it on Wednesday,” one of the teachers said in a phone interview.
Police said the public school system has an overall safety plan, but some instructors feel uneasy about the lack of a specific protocol in place to handle no-trespass orders, the other teacher said.
“This is a concern about anyone who is in the building,” that teacher said.
Parents will commonly enter the building to drop off school lunches, knocking on their children’s classroom doors, the teacher said. “If we know them, we’re happy to open the door, and if this had happened yesterday we wouldn’t have known what to do.”
Parents were shocked by the lack of information from the school, said Vollmar. “I don’t know how any school official . . . can’t take such a threat seriously.”
Ryan pointed out that the school is in charge of informing parents in these types of situations. Hanna issued the order banning Goodwin from school grounds, which could lead to prosecution for trespassing if violated, police said.
School administration officials could not be reached for comment Friday night.
Goodwin was not known to Arlington police before Thursday, Ryan said.
Police also said they will look into “the totality of the circumstances,” including a YouTube music video in which Goodwin brandishes two large knives.
“Everything that we’ve done has been to ensure the safety of the children and exercise extreme caution over this incident,” he said.
Parents of children at Stratton Elementary have been communicating in a flurry of texts, e-mails, and Facebook messages, Vollmar said.
Some are considering sending their children to the elementary school as usual, but will not be doing so unless there is some sort of response from the administration, she said.
“I don’t see how they can’t communicate with parents about this whole situation,” she added.Jennifer Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.