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Police search school in Pa. after threat

May 07, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania State Police were called to James Buchanan High School on Thursday and Friday to check reports that a bomb would go off in the school during the seventh study period Friday afternoon, but no students were evacuated, said Schools Superintendent Ted Rabold.

Rabold said three small hand-written notes, two in pencil, believed to have been written by the same author, were seen on a wall in a boys' restroom. A third note, written in pen, also was observed on the same wall, Rabold said.

Two of the messages were so small that they were written on the grout between the concrete blocks of the wall, he said. The first note was seen Thursday around noon and it was washed off. It appeared again in the same area and it too was removed, he said. Both were in pencil. The third warning was written on the wall nearby in pen, he said. All three referred to a bomb going off during the seventh period, somewhere around 1 p.m., he said.

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State troopers checked the building Thursday and again on Friday but nothing was found, Rabold said. He said teachers were put on alert and several began to patrol the restroom as a further precaution.

"We have to take these things seriously," he said.

If those who wrote the messages are caught they will be expelled and turned over to police for prosecution, he said.

Meanwhile, in the Waynesboro Area School District, school board members this week raised the issue of spending more money on security in their schools.

Superintendent Robert Mesaros said the district employs two part-time school police officers who patrol in the high and middle schools. The officers wear badges but not uniforms and they are not armed, Mesaros said.

The school board is considering increasing the hours of coverage, he said.

"We're taking every logistical precaution available to us, but we have thousands of students coming into these buildings throughout the day," he said.

Mesaros and Rabold said they have locked all doors except the front doors of their schools, which lead directly to the office, since the April 20 Littleton, Colo., school slayings.

P. Duff Rearick, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, said there is a heightened awareness among administrators and teachers, but otherwise things are moving along routinely. No police officers patrol schools in the district, he said.

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