Police notified after man approaches high school student to offer ride Thursday morning

Southold Town Police were dispatched to Southold High School Thursday morning after a student was approached by a middle-aged man on her way to school, district officials said. 

At approximately 7:40 a.m., a female high school student was approached by the driver of a silver or light-gray mini-van on Traveler Street near the Southold Free Library.

The man offered the student a ride to school. The student refused, proceeded to school and immediately reported the incident to Southold Junior/Senior High School principal Terence Rusch.

“The student is absolutely safe,” Mr. Rusch said.

Mr. Rusch immediately notified Southold Town Police and Southold Elementary School officials after hearing of the incident.

A robocall was sent out to parents in the district, as well as in Greenport, around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, he said. Around that time, police arrived at the school and interviewed the student. 

“The Southold Town Police were extremely prompt in getting to the school right away,” Mr. Rusch said. “Not only was an officer dispatched here, but our [school resource officer] came. They were also relaying information right to police headquarters as they were receiving it from the student. It was very timely and they handled it extremely well.”

Southold police Chief Martin Flatley said in an email Thursday afternoon that police are working on identifying the vehicle and operator.

Superintendent David Gamberg said in an email that the district “acted immediately to insure the safety of all students.” He added that a letter about the incident is being mailed to families and will be available on the district website. 

Mr. Rusch said high school students were made aware of the incident and were reminded to follow safety precautions prior to their lunch periods. Middle school teachers will be reviewing the incident with seventh and eighth grader students during advisory before heading home Thursday, he said.

In late November, the district notified parents of an incident where a Southold Elementary student was approached at a bus stop and offered a ride to school. The girl refused the driver left in that incident.