Bomb Threats Taken 'Very Seriously' as Schools Seek to Educate Students
Assemblies and classroom talks will target Montville students in grades 3-8 following three threats in one week.
As Montville Township Public Schools saw its third bomb threat in a district school within one week Monday at Hilldale Elementary School, district officials and local police officers have gathered to develop ways to educate students in grades 3-8 against the dangers and consequences of making such threats and asked parents to talk to their kids at home.
"We're taking this very seriously and there will be consequences if anybody is caught," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Fried said Tuesday.
On Monday, students were evacuated to a nearby firehouse from Hilldale after a threat was written on a bathroom wall. On March 4, the Robert R. Lazar School was evacuated around lunch time after a threat also was written on a bathroom wall. Last Thursday, Cedar Hill Elementary School also was evacuated, with students asked to wait on buses, after a similar written threat was found inside the school.
Montville Township Police Capt. Rudy Appelmann said Friday police did not believe the first two incidents were related but rather the second appeared to be a "copycat" of the first. Appelmann was not available for comment on the Hilldale incident Tuesday but Fried said he had met with the captain to discuss ways to prevent future threats from happening.
"He has agreed to have police officers come into our five elementary schools [and Lazar] and they will hold short assembly programs with children in grades 3-8," Fried said. "They will talk about the seriousness of this issue and concerns that we have and the consequences that we have if kids are caught doing this."
While he could not discuss what the school district's specific consequences are, Fried said they could include suspension and added that police may also be involved.
Additionally, Fried met with district principals to discuss ways to educate the students and policies that will be implemented to prevent further threats. Classroom discussions will be had at the elementary schools as the principals see fit and the schools will not allow students to bring writing utensils to the restrooms. Students will be responsible for signing in and out of classrooms when they wish to use the restrooms. Students will also be reminded that there are cameras in school.
Fried said administrators agreed that the discussions should be targeted toward the age group of the selected grades and not the younger students.
"K-2, we're not really worried in those younger grades and we certainly don't want to scare the children unnecessarily," he said.
While the first two school evacuations took place during lunch sessions, Fried said the incidents do cause a disruption to the students and take away from the educational experience.
"It disrupts the instructional process," he said. "The amount of minutes that we're displaced is really an issue for us."
The schools will continue to address the issue in upcoming days and weeks, but Fried has appealed to parents to continue educating their kids on the seriousness of the threats at home. In a letter he sent home to parents Monday, he asked them to talk with their children about the events.
"Please speak to your children about the importance of never making a threat or trying to scare anyone in our schools," he said. "Express to them how serious this is, how police and the fire department must come to our schools when they may be needed elsewhere. Our children should also know that there would be serious consequences if they were caught trying to scare the students and district."