May 9, 2014

Bomb threat forces evacuation of Lincoln Middle School in Edwardsville

The all-clear was given and classes resumed Friday morning at Lincoln Middle School in Edwardsville after a vague bomb threat on a restroom wall spurred the temporary evacuation of the building.

The message was discovered about 8:15 a.m. by a school administrator, who informed the school resource officer, according to Police Chief Jay Keeven. While school officials said they did not believe was "a credible threat," they decided to invoke a "Code Move" to evacuate students and employees to Woodland Elementary School, which is adjacent to and shares a parking lot with Lincoln Middle School. Keeven said they treated it like a fire drill, where the students leave their classrooms and go next door.

An automated telephone message about the threat was released by District 7 about 10:25 a.m. Friday to parents.

"While we do not feel that this is a credible threat, we will always err on the side of caution to protect the safety of the students and staff," said Superintendent Ed Hightower.

The building was secured by police and searched by a canine unit trained to identify explosives from the Illinois Secretary of State's office. Students and employees remained at Woodland Elementary for about an hour and a half during the search of the school.

The seventh graders had already left the building on a field trip when the evacuation took place and were not affected by the incident.

Parents said they mostly pleased with the district's handling of the situation. Erin Harper said she received both an email and an automated phone call in "good time," keeping her informed.

"I think it was handled wonderfully," she said. "I hope they catch the punk kid who disrupted the school day and punish him or her to the fullest."

Hightower first addressed the students in the Lincoln gymnasium, and they were released to their classes by 10:45 a.m.

"While we are not happy that one of our students demonstrated such poor judgment and disrupted the school day, I would be remiss in not thanking (students and employees) for how well they handled the situation and responded with such precision and professionalism," Hightower said.

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