01/28/13 A bomb threat found in a boy’s bathroom at Plymouth High School on Wednesday (January 23) after school hours prompted quick and through responses from school administrators, the Plymouth Police Department and the Indiana State Police. The threat, scribbled on the wall, and found by a student, said that a bomb would be in the library on Thursday (January 24) and go off at 12:30, according to PHS Principal Jim Condon.
The school was evacuated totally on Wednesday night by 8:00 p.m., while at the same time, all of the teachers and staff electronic “fob” (keyless) door openers were deactivated to help ensure that no one would enter the facility. Condon said, “The fobs can be deactivated by a click of a button.”
Condon had informed the parents, staff and students per School Reach telephone messages that no students would be allowed inside the building before 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. He also indicated that by 8:00 a.m., he would have a decision on whether to delay or to close down for the day.
By approximately 5:00 a.m. on Thursday, law enforcement officers and specially trained bomb sniffing dogs, along with school administrators, entered the building in search of any explosives. A few minutes after 8:00 a.m., Condon sent out a School Reach message to parents, staff and students indicating that the building was clear.
According to Condon, officers stayed throughout the school day as a precaution. He said, “They (PPD and ISP) worked long hours from early morning and through the entire school day to maintain a safe environment for everyone.”
All of the schools in the Plymouth system had been delayed by two hours even though the threat was only targeted toward PHS since students are shuttled to the high school each day and are transferred to buses going to their respective schools.
Only four doors of the PHS were opened to let students enter. At each of the four doors, school staff inspected the backpacks of students before allowing them to enter. Superintendent Daniel Tyree said, “I was at Door 8 along with two other administrators, two teachers, a guidance counselor and one officer from the ISP. Tyree said, “We did not have one complaint.” He said the officer did not inspect the backpacks, but was there as a presence. According to Tyree, a law enforcement officer was at each opened door.
According to Condon, school administrators are now reviewing videos that could help identify anyone that had entered the bathroom where the threat was found. Condon said, “This is an ongoing investigation.” He said, “We have received input from both students and staff (on the matter).”
Having a plan in effect obviously allowed those involved to take the immediate steps. Condon said, “We are extremely pleased with everyone’s efforts in carrying out the plan that worked efficiently. Our primary goal was safety.” Condon said, “I want to thank the teachers for maintaining a culture of learning today.” Tyree also voiced his appreciation saying, “The plan was followed perfectly. The high school administrators, teachers, staff and students were respectful of the plan.”
Attendance was down somewhat corporation wide. Tyree said they had about 85 percent of the students in school. Condon said attendance at PHS is usually between 94-95 percent, but was approximately at 85 percent on Thursday.
Tyree said, “Our focus now is on catching and disciplining the person or persons who initiated the threat.” “We have some good leads and we believe we will wrap this up quickly.” he said. He too expressed his appreciation for the law enforcement involved. He added, “There were several alumni of PHS in both the Plymouth Police Department and the Indiana State Police who said they read what was going on and wanted to help.” He said, “They believe in their home school.”
Director of Quality Programs and the corporation’s certified state safety expert, Michele Riise, had led a committee to draft the bomb threat safety plan. Tyree said, “She will now have to evaluate the plan. We have already started that process.”
Tyree said he has been involved in three bomb threats over the last ten years. In Condon’s first year in the Plymouth system in 2008, there was also a bomb threat. Tyree said, “In all three cases, the perpetrators were found.”
Carol Anders Correspondent