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Grinnell Community Middle School evacuated due to bomb threat

Photo by Sarah Ruiz
Photo by Sarah Ruiz
Photo by Sarah Ruiz

Mira Braneck

The Grinnell Community Middle School was evacuated due to a bomb threat on Friday, Sept. 9 around 11 a.m. The threat was found in the school in the form of a small note.

“I think it said something like bomb at 12,” said Superintendent Janet Stutz. “It was a note that was found on a small piece of paper that was found by some students … [We were] trying to figure out was it new, was it fresh, was it old … it wasn’t an actual threat, it was a note. …  There’s a difference.”

School administrators called the police after seeing the note, and ultimately, both made the decision to evacuate the school.

“You have to be sure to take every threat seriously and at least have a precautionary measure and involve your local authorities to make a good decision,” Stutz said. “You’re trying to figure out where the note was found, who was out of the classroom at the time … trying to identify who it might have been, trying to make sure that there’s safety, trying to contact the police. There’s a variety of different decisions that happen in the first 17 minutes.”

Stutz is not currently anticipating any punitive measures towards a student.

“I don’t know if the student had ever been identified. We’re still in the midst of that investigation,” she said.

Although other schools in the district are more common targets for bomb threats, Grinnell Community Middle School has received bomb threats in the past, including two in May 2014.

“My understanding is that there were some instances like this in the past,” Stutz said. “I talked to the police chief regarding all of this, and I know that there were instances like this at the high school.”

Stutz emphasized the importance of taking these incidents seriously, acting quickly and engaging the police.

“Unfortunately, my concern is that when you get kids who obviously want some alarming activity to happen, [incidents like this] become more frequent. That’s why you have to handle these very carefully and engage your local authorities and make a determination as to evacuation or not,” she said. “Obviously, this was precautionary.”

Stutz plans to use the incident as an opportunity for the school to strengthen its response procedures for bomb threats as well as other potential emergencies.

“I talked to the police chief and the fire chief as well, as I’d like to do some tabletop scenarios to practice some certain things in the event of an emergency … not just this, but any emergency,” she said. “We’ll specifically talk about how we can improve our response, what can we do differently, how can we learn from this experience, how can we make sure our procedures are tightened up. We’ll use this as a learning experience moving forward.”

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