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Threat keeps students home

May 19, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - About half of Greencastle-Antrim Middle School's 600 students stayed home Wednesday in reaction to a threatening note found last week in a 14-year-old student's composition book.

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The note said the school would be blown up on May 19.

P. Duff Rearick, superintendent for the district, said the student was identified and turned over to Greencastle police for prosecution. The school board will decide at a meeting this morning if the student will be expelled, Rearick said.

Greencastle's police chief was unavailable for comment and no one else at the department would comment on the case.

A teacher found the note in the boy's composition book on May 11, Rearick said.

Letters were mailed to middle school parents Friday, leaving it up to them whether to send their children to school Wednesday. About half the students stayed home.

"We expected some to stay home, but we didn't know how many," Rearick said.

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Police searched the building and school officials "hand-searched" as well, Rearick said. The searches turned up nothing. Security measures have been beefed up, including keeping maintenance personnel on duty 24 hours a day.

For the past week, parent volunteers have patrolled the building and watched the entrance doors, directing visitors to the office for passes, Rearick said.

"We can't thank the parents enough. They have really turned out to help," he said.

"We don't know where to go next," Rearick said. "Each family has to make its own independent choice. We can all do our part to decide if we want to live in fear or take back our schools.

"Everybody in the country should be outraged that something like this can shut down our entire education system. We're all going to have to pull together, to trust and to keep our children in school."

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