LAKEWOOD — A much-anticipated board of education meeting on Thursday night was derailed by a suspicious package left outside the meeting site.

What was expected to be a tense meeting at the at the Early Childhood Learning Center on Linden Avenue in Lakewood was suspended and then canceled because of the package left in the parking lot of the meeting site, according to Lakewood police spokesman Lt. Gregory Staffordsmith.

"For the safety of everyone present I ordered the evacuation of the site. We need to be at least 500 to 1,000 feet away from the package," security director Rob Desimone said in a video posted by the Lakewood Scoop.

Staffordsmith said the package turned out to be a suitcase that was put out for the trash by a nearby resident and was relocated to the parking lot.

"There isn’t any indication that the relocation of the suitcase was meant to cause alarm," Staffordsmith said.

The board's attorney, Michael Inzelbuch, said in the same Lakewood Scoop video that eight board members, superintendent Laura Winters an the state monitor were present and ready for the meeting when the evacuation was ordered.

The special meeting was called after the board's  meeting on Aug. 28 was ended 20 minutes after it started, leaving parents frustrated they could not comment, according to an Asbury Park Press report.

Parent René Morales told the Asbury Park Press he thought the incident was a "show" in order for the board to not have to hear from parents.

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