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'Phony destructive device' shut down North High

August 21, 2009

The "suspicious item" that caused a brief shutdown of North Hagerstown High School Wednesday morning was a "phony destructive device" made of road flares, according to a statement issued Friday by Washington County Public Schools officials.

Road flares are prohibited under the disciplinary guidelines in the "WCPS Handbook and Guide," a violation of which could result in an extended suspension or expulsion, the statement said.

An investigation by the Hagerstown Police Department revealed the phony device was part of an inappropriate prank at the school, the statement said.

The situation never posed a threat to students or staff, but the school system is taking the matter very seriously, the statement said.

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"The safety of our students and staff is a top priority for our school system, and any perceived threat, regardless of its nature, is handled with the same level of attention," Superintendent Elizabeth M. Morgan said in the release.

The school system is continuing its internal investigation and any information about staff or students will be kept confidential, as required by law, the statement said.

A call reporting the suspicious item came in at about 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, which was the first day of school, Hagerstown Police said.

As students arrived, they were diverted from the property, with some waiting in nearby restaurants. School buses were sent to the former County Market lot.

Police cleared the scene within about an hour of receiving the call and classes started on time, Hagerstown Police Sgt. Paul Kifer said.

The school day at North Hagerstown High School begins at 8:45 a.m.

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