Late this morning, Girard at Large began to receive information about a bomb threat at Central High that led to the school’s evacuation. Despite the information received, we could find no information from the district about the incident in any of our in-boxes or on social media. Parents told Girard at Large that a bomb threat was found scrawled on the wall in a girls bathroom.
Failing to find that information we inquired of Superintendent Debra Livingston about the incident at 12:48 PM. At 12:58 PM, we received the following email from Livingston:
Rich, You should have received information. If not, please let me know. We have now posted on Facebook. It is also posted on the Central website.
We then found this from school district Communication’s Coordinator Andrea Alley in the in-box at which we typically receive school press releases at 12:43 PM:
A report of a possible threat against the school prompted an evacuation of Manchester High School Central this morning. While the threat did not appear to be credible, administrators and police took it seriously. Students and staff were able to re-enter the building after it was determined to be safe to do so.If you have specific questions about the situation, please contact the Manchester Police Department. Thank you!
This is what was posted on the Manchester School District’s Facebook page at approximately 1:15 PM:
Central High School is safe after a report of a possible threat against the school prompted an evacuation this morning. While the threat did not appear to be credible, administrators and police took it seriously. Students and staff were able to re-enter the building after it was determined to be safe to do so.
On Central’s Web Site, we found the following, posted around the time of our inquiry to the superintendent:
posted 4 hours ago by Central Webmaster
Good Morning,Today we conducted an evacuation of Manchester High School Central. There was a report received by administration of a possible situation. While it did not appear to be credible, it was taken seriously by the school. Students and staff were able to re-enter the building after it was determined to be safe to do so. If you have questions, please contact my office.Thank you,John VaccarezzaManchester High School Central Principal
From there, still not seeing any substance, we checked the in-box at which we receive press information from police departments and found this from Lt. Brian O’Keefe of the Manchester Police Department at 3:16 PM:
Threat At Local High School
The Manchester School District evacuated Central High School at 10:15 a.m. today based on a bomb threat located on an interior wall of the high school. The administration took the proper precautionary measures and evacuated the entire school, so both the Manchester Police Department and Manchester Fire Department could investigate the threat.
The threat caused a half- hour disruption to the students and faculty, but both students and faculty returned to school at 10:45 a.m. to resume their regular school activities. Central High School Administrators communicated with the parents of Central High School students, so they were apprised of the circumstances surrounding the evacuation. The Manchester Police Department will continue to investigate the bomb threat, so I have no further information to add at this time.
Should there be any additional information, we will, of course, report it. In providing this information, we wish to make known that between the evacuation of Central and the issuance of these statements, the district’s only communications with the public was about furniture donated to the library at Parkside.
We believe that our email to the superintendent, printed in its entirety below, was the reason any information was released, which we find distressing.
Hi, Deb.I’ve received inquiries from parents about what happened at Central today. From what I can piece together, the school was evacuated as a result of a bomb threat found in a girls’ bathroom. I’ve also heard some sort of email went home to parents.I went to my various inboxes and checked the district’s Facebook page to see if there was some sort of explanation, but all there was nothing.Please advise as to what happened at Central today. Please also consider that when a major event like that happens it is simply counterproductive for the district to pretend that it didn’t happen. By failing to get out front and advise the public and the media, rumors start and spread. This is the kind of thing a PR person should instinctively know and spend time on. Articles about furniture donations transforming libraries can wait.
While we have yet to see the email sent home, parents have said they received little more information, if any, than what was contained on Central’s Web site, which is even more distressing. The district should understand that full disclosure in situations like these is paramount to building trust and confidence with parents.