Officials evacuate school after finding bomb threat

A Richmond Middle School student now faces at least a year off from school after a bomb threat note was found in the stall of a bathroom.
Middle school students began evacuating at about 1:35 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon while Richmond Police secured the building and the surrounding grounds.
Superintendent Jim Robins said a handwriting analysis was done on the note to determine who wrote the threat. Robins said the child who made the threat has been identified.
“We always do a handwriting sample and it matched up,” he said. “We got our person.”
Robins said there was no imminent threat, however the school district does not like to take chances, so an evacuation was ordered.
“Even if we knew there was only a one percent chance we would evacuate. We always treat it ‘as if,’” he said. “We have a crisis plan and we went a head and did the drill.”
Students from the school were evacuated to the Southview Park parking lot where school busses lined up and parents arrived to pick up their children. Robins said it’s a drill that is practiced frequently. He said the memories of incidents like Columbine High School in Colorado still make educators cautious when it comes to child safety.
Robins said evacuation procedures are about the same for the high school students, but the district takes a different approach when it comes to smaller children at the elementary schools. He said teachers and staff do not use “bomb” language around the small children because it could cause emotional distress.
“It’s emotional overkill,” he said. “We just tell them we need to leave real fast.”
Police cleared the building for staff to return at about 2:15 p.m. Robins said police will still do some final checking before clearing the building completely this afternoon. He said children should be able to return to class tomorrow.
Spartan Alert alerted parents to the incident on their cell phones.
Robins said that sometimes the district experiences a rash of bomb threats. He said it is an automatic calendar year suspension if a student is found guilty. He said once an example has been made that the district is serious, the threats stop.
Photo: Richmond Police cars and other response vehicles blocked off the entrances to Richmond Middle School Wednesday afternoon to evacuate the school during a bomb threat. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)

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