The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 27, 2009

Threats cause Carlisle School lock down, evacuation

The Carlisle School received a bomb threat last Friday, two days after the discovery of a threatening letter which had resulted in a school lock-down. The school believes it has identified the student involved in last Wednesday’s threatening letter. Asked if the two threats were related, Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle said, “We believe it is another person.” However, Police Chief John Sullivan said police are investigating both incidents and would not rule out a connection.

Lock-down on Wednesday

On November 18 the school initiated a lock-down after discovering a threatening letter in a boys’ bathroom. Doyle said the student was identified through his handwriting. During a lockdown all students are directed to a secure location within the school buildings, either a classroom or an office. The Carlisle Police were contacted shortly before 3 p.m., and they in turn contacted the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council School Threat Assessment and Response System (NEMLEC STARS) Team. Doyle said, “The STARS Team did not need to come to Carlisle as we were able to resolve the situation without their assistance. We are working closely with the parents of the student who wrote the note, in order to help the student understand the gravity of writing such a note.”

Evacuation on Friday

Children were evacuated at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, November 20, after the second message, a time-specific bomb threat was received by the school. Following emergency procedures, the children were led to alternate locations and were then brought to Spalding Field for dismissal at the end of the school day.

Police blocked access to roads near the Carlisle School during the evacuation on Friday afternoon, November 20. (Photo by Susan Emmons)

Carlisle Police were assisted by the STARS Team and three bomb-detecting dogs were used to check the campus. Sullivan praised NEMLEC’s assistance;“They’re fantastic.”

Sullivan believes this was the first time the school evaculation plan has had to be implemented since it was put in place several years ago. He said that the past planning and organization was worthwhile and the evacuation procedures worked well.

At about 9:30 p.m. that evening, Doyle and Sullivan released a joint statement in which they said, “First of all let us begin by stating that our students are safe. As you know, someone made a threat this afternoon and the police and appropriate authorities were contacted. We deemed the threat serious enough to evacuate the school.

“While we believed that the threat was a hoax, we still felt it wise to implement our evacuation plan. The staff is to be commended for proceeding with professionalism as well as our students, who in general were calm during this evacuation.”

Students had to leave their backpacks behind during the evacuation and homework deadlines were extended. Those who needed to pick up “essential/emergency items” were allowed back on campus accompanied by a parent on Saturday afternoon to retrieve the items.

Investigation

As of press time, no one has been charged in either incident. The Mosquito was unable to learn from school officials whether any students have been suspended or expelled as a result of the threats. However, Sullivan said he thought the student suspected of Wednesday’s threat was not at school on Friday.

While the eventual disposition will depend on the results of the investigation, Sullivan said that a bomb threat is always treated very seriously. Any students who are charged will be handled in the Juvenile Court in Framingham. He said, “I think it’s above Restorative Justice at this point.” Sullivan noted that the courts have flexibility to respond according to the degree of severity of each case.

Sullivan would not release additional details of the threats. He plans to take handwriting samples to a state expert for analysis. He added, “We’d like to get this handled as quickly as possible.”

Police interviewed students over the weekend and Sullivan says, “We’ll work any and all leads.” He encourages anyone with information to contact the police at 1-978-369-1155.

Safety measures put in place

Extra safety precautions were in place on the school campus Monday morning. Chief Sullivan said two police – one uniformed and one plainclothes officer – were at the school all day Monday and one officer would be on campus on Tuesday. After that officers would be assigned as needed.

In addition, in an email sent Sunday evening, Doyle told parents, “The bathrooms will be locked at all times, and students will need to report to a secretary to pick up a key until further notice. In addition, all students will sign out of classrooms.” She planned to meet with students during the day to answer questions.

Doyle said that the school will look at ways to deal with underlying issues and long-term solutions. “We will be developing plans for advisory groups/Open Circle on leadership skills, as well as ways to prevent last week’s events from happening again. We will review advisory curriculum and develop specific lesson plans that help us better assist your children, as well as open avenues of communication.”

Board of Selectmen Chair Tim Hult said the evacuation was initiated because Friday’s threat was deemed “credible.” He praised the school and emergency responders during events which were upsetting to many parents and students, “A lot of people did a lot of great things. The police were excellent. The teachers were superb.” He added that while the events were serious, he hoped that once the investigation is complete and details of the incidents are known, the community would react “with compassion and understanding for those families of the children involved.” ∆


© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito