Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 05 March 2013 14:14
The threat of a bomb scheduled to explode Friday, March 1, at USD 398 Peabody-Burns High School prompted action by school personnel and law enforcement officials at the local, county and state level.
Superintendent Ron Traxson said Monday a student at Peabody-Burns High School has been identified in connection with writing the bomb threat on a bathroom stall Feb. 14 identifying the afternoon of March 1 as the date and time the bomb would explode.
“Supposedly the person would blow up the building,” he said, “which is a tall order, but we live in a time that we have to take very serious steps.”
Those steps, Traxson said, included identifying the student responsible, which took two full days reviewing surveillance, interviewing other students and looking at all the facts.
Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft and Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke also conducted interviews, handwriting comparisons and other means to determine who was responsible.
“A student was suspended and is pending a hearing,” Traxson said, which could result in a long-term suspension.
Traxson said a letter was sent to parents one week into the investigation outlining what was being done, and how officials would be sensitive to parents’ concerns for the well-being of their children on March 1 if they chose to keep a student home.
“We did have a number of students that did not come in (March 1), but 60 percent were in attendance,” Traxson said.
Prior to the day the bomb was allegedly to explode, Craft said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Highway Patrol were contacted with a request to have bomb-sniffing dogs dispatched to clear the entire building.
“Three K-9 bomb dogs and handlers from the Kansas Highway Patrol arrived Feb. 28 to search the building for any possible explosive devices,” Craft said.
Once the building was completely searched, Traxson said, it was sealed and the perimeter was patrolled by law enforcement.
The day of the alleged bomb, all school doors were checked to verify the security seals were intact, he said, and law enforcement officials and school administration searched all staff and students entering the building that morning.
“No explosive devices were located,” Craft added.
Traxson said the investigation is continuing, but applauded the efforts local and county officials.
“I was very pleased and impressed with how law enforcement has worked with this and still continues to,” he said. “They acknowledged the seriousness of the threat and are still continuing to do so.”
Once the disciplinary hearing is scheduled, the student involved in the bomb threat could receive up to a 186-day suspension, which is equivalent to one school year, with a minimum long-term suspension lasting through the remainder of the school year, he said.