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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell-Newburg Schools Respond to Bomb Threats

On Thursday, April 24, the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District received its third bomb threat in a 14-day period.

The first of the threats took place on Thursday, April 10, when Grinnell-Newburg High School received a bomb threat. On Monday, April 21, Grinnell-Newburg Middle School received the second threat, and then another just three days later.

Each incident resulted in the respective school evacuating and police inspecting the premises, where they found nothing suspicious. However, the administration has taken all of the threats seriously.

“Our procedures are [that] we do not ignore any type of threat, whether it’s founded or unfounded,” said Grinnell-Newburg School District Superintendent Todd Abrahamson. “Our responsibility is the safety of our students and staff.”

According to Abrahamson, receiving bomb threats like this, especially within a short period of time, is very atypical.

Grinnell Middle School - Chris Lee
Grinnell Middle School (shown above) responded to a bomb threat on April 21 and on April 24.

“I’ve been a superintendent for 10 years now and this is the first time I’ve had to deal with something like this,” he said.

Despite the fact that a series of three threats occurred within 14 days, as of now, the district is unsure who is responsible, or even if the same person or group perpetrated all three threats.

“We have no idea if they are linked. No one has come forward at this time, so it’s an ongoing investigation,” Abrahamson said.

However, Abrahamson did have one theory. He noted that other schools in Iowa had been receiving bomb threats prior to Grinnell’s, and considered it possible that Grinnell students were mimicking these actions after reading about them in the media.

The superintendent also felt that the schools responded in the correct manner in handling the issue. Rather than dialing the direct number of a police officer who works with the school, the schools decided to call 911 directly, in order to get the fastest response.

Calling 911 does lead to some inconveniences for the school in regards to media attention, but Abrahamson considers it a necessary measure in acknowledging the legitimacy of threats that pose a hazard to the safety of students and faculty.

“Hey, it’s worth it, we will deal with the media, we will deal with all that. Our primary responsibility is the safety of our students and staff,” he explained. “So there’s no hesitation [in calling 911].”

Having the police directly involved not only led to media coverage, but also led to a serious response by the Grinnell Police Department. Police officers are currently urging parents to confront their children about the severity of feigning a bomb threat.

Abrahamson reflected on the precautions that the school has to take in order to maintain safety within an educational environment.

“It’s kind of a sad state of affairs that you have to do that in education, but we have to, just because of what has gone on across our nation,” he said.

To prevent further instances, the school district is focusing on educating students and staff on the harms of bomb threats, as well as the exact protocol on what to do when one is received. An unfounded threat takes emergency personnel away from actual danger and also puts responders at risk as they rush to the site of the threat, as well as endangering those evacuating the building.

In response to the recent bomb threats, Abrahamson conveyed a serious message for any prankster or pranksters who may be responsible for these threats.

“You’re putting a lot of people at harm. And jeopardizing the lives of students and staff … and of responders,” he said.

Anyone with relevant information regarding these bomb threats are encouraged to contact the Grinnell Police Department at (641) 236-2670.

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