UL responds to bomb threats
By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
Times Leader Staff Writer
BELMONT – In the wake of the third bomb threat and district-wide evacuation in a row, the Union?Local Board of Education held a special meeting Monday to discuss policies and a response.
Superintendent Kirk Glasgow noted that bomb threats at the elementary school, middle school and high school occurred in the afternoons of last Monday and Tuesday and this Monday. A note was found in a different building each time.
He added that there are about 1,500 students in the district.
This morning will see student assemblies at each of the three buildings. Administrators and law enforcement will inform the student body of the legal and financial penalties that can be incurred by false bomb threats.
In addition, a letter will go out to parents reminding them that penalties include the possibility of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and a felony classification. School district policy also allows for a full year’s expulsion.
Other expenses include the cost of uneaten lunches that had to be thrown out, the lost revenue for athletic events canceled those nights, and the salaries of janitors and cafeteria workers.
Board Member Scott Bowling added that the loss of instruction time may need to be made up from the Christmas break or at the end of the year. Other activities such as the movie or early dismissal before Christmas break may need to be canceled. Glasgow noted that club activities for this week have been called off.
Glasgow noted that Monday night’s girls junior varsity basketball game was moved to Bellaire, but the varsity game was canceled since it would have been moved to the Martins Ferry district, which was also evacuated that day due to a bomb threat. Practice sessions had also been canceled last week.
They will also point out the impact of a bomb threat on children whose parents do not receive a parent broadcast call or are unable to respond or leave work in time to pick up their children.
Board members also evaluated policies and procedures in evacuating the buildings. Glasgow added that law enforcement is looking into leads that may be obtained from the threatening notes. They are unable to say yet whether the threats are connected or independent.
High School Principal Joel Davia commended the teachers, staff and students for their excellent and orderly response during the evacuation.
Board Members Dean Lancaster and Terry Puperi agreed.
“I think the administrators and the teachers did an excellent job under really trying circumstances three times in a row,” Lancaster said.
Glasgow added that administrators have been reviewing stricter policies including increased monitoring of hallway traffic between classes and a no tolerance stance on students without hall passes during class times.
“We need to be more vigilant at that. There’s a lot of kids that are in the hallways without passes,” he said.
Board members also discussed the possibility of installing cameras inside the school buildings. They will look into costs and bring prices in for the December meeting. The district may use a percentage of its Title 6-R Rural Low Income grant monies for security upgrades.
“If this isn’t a warning shot across the bow that we need to do something, three in a row, I don’t know what is,” said Lancaster.
Glasgow extended an apology to parents and asked for their input and support. He encouraged them to discuss the issue with their children and encourage their cooperation.
“Student safety is paramount.”
Anyone with questions or suggestions may call the superintendent’s office at (740) 782-1978 extension 25.
DeFrank can be reached at email@example.com