Administration Conducts a Shelter-In


Francis Lewis High School conducted a shelter-in for approximately one hour and forty-five minutes on Friday, September 27.  The announcement for students to shelter-in took place close to end of 4th period, as students were finishing up class.

“When I first heard it, I thought it was a joke because you know we’ve been doing these drills and stuff,” said Aqsa Pirzada, a junior. 

However, this shelter-in was no prank or drill. The students, staff and teachers were ordered to remain inside the building and conduct business as usual. According to Principal Dr. Marmor, the shelter-in was due to rumors about a fight at Gas Sale wherein one of the participants had a gun at their waistband. A school administrator heard about the rumor and conducted a shelter-in and then contacted the police. After conducting an investigation, the police found no evidence of a gun in the area, though a fight did happen.

“We would not have sheltered-in just for a simple fight,” Dr. Marmor said. “We sheltered-in only because of the rumor of a gun.”

According to Dr. Marmor, what appeared to actually happen was a fight at Gas Sale across the street from Francis Lewis High School. 

“This happened at the gas station as a fight started with a few kids,” Dr. Marmor said. “The fight lasted a couple of seconds and then it was over. The men or boys who started the fight, not from our school, left.” 

Some Francis Lewis students witnessed the event, but were not involved nor harmed.

“The few kids from our school who were involved were innocent bystanders,” Dr. Marmor said.  “[They] were just standing by the gas station on their way to lunch. They had no knowledge of what was going on, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those kids were treated [and] everything was ok.  Nobody was seriously injured and they came back into the building.”

A shelter-in occurs when administration determines there is a possible threat outside the building. During a shelter-in, students are to proceed with their regular schedules within the school, but are restricted from leaving the building. Students may not leave the building until the police have investigated the area and deemed it safe.

“The only thing that changes is that you can’t go home, you can’t leave,” Dr. Marmor added.  “That day we made about one hundred announcements; if your day is over, please go to the auditorium. We had people stationed at every door.  Anybody who tried to leave, we told them to please go to the auditorium.”

Students had mixed reactions after the shelter-in.  Some thought it was handled well by administration.

“I think it was pretty well handled,” senior Cindy Marquez said.  “He [Dr. Marmor] did what he had to do and informed us of what it was and what it wasn’t.”

However, some felt alarmed from the experience. 

“I felt like more could’ve been done to help the students in the situation,” said Victoria La Rosa, a senior. “There was a lot of anxiousness.”

Pirzada agreed. 

“I do not feel safe at all,” Pirzada said.  “In a school that has more than its maximum limit, I do not feel safe whatsoever.  We don’t have enough people to even keep half of us safe. There’s way too many people.”

Dr. Marmor stated that having students be outside of the building created the necessity of the shelter-in, and that students being outside of the building contributed as a result.

“The problem that happened on the day of the shelter-in would never have happened if everybody was in the building,” stated Dr. Marmor. “The only reason we had the problem is because at 10:15, when this happened, there were kids outside. If those kids that were outside were in the building, nothing would ever have happened.”

The principal stated that a new set of procedures and protocols will be put into place to keep people in the building, especially in light of the shelter-in. Dr. Marmor plans to create a Student Advisory Council that will meet to discuss the implementation of new disciplinary measures in order to keep students from leaving the school. He noted that students might push back with stricter policies in place. 

“Is it fair that some people are going to have to stay in because they fear the consequences and other people will go out because they don’t fear it?” asked Dr. Marmor.  “No, that’s not fair, but I’m not sure I care because my job is not fairness. My job is to keep you safe, and I will try to keep as many of you safe as I can.”

Additional reporting by Maryorie Lopez and Nathalie Segarra Valle