Londonderry High School has had three bomb threats this school year – Sept. 7, Sept. 28 and Sept. 29. Police and school officials say all three are “not credible.”
The Londonderry Police Department and Londonderry School District administration have worked cooperatively to assess and deal with the bomb threats and as with the first incident, the two ones from last week have been deemed not a credible threat.
According to the Londonderry Police log, the department received a bomb threat call just before 5 p.m. Sept. 7 from the high school, as previously reported in the Londonderry Times. The incident was described as “a bomb scare action” at the high school.
Officers were immediately dispatched to the school and conducted an investigation. Police Detective Chris Olson said at the time the threat was based on words written on one of the urinals in the boys’ bathroom. Olson said the note written on the urinal stated, “im gonna bomb LHS.”
The discovery came after school hours and no device was found. As the incident was deemed not to be a credible threat, school was held as usual the following day.
Nothing more came to light on that first bomb threat, despite an ongoing investigation, and there were no more incidents until Wednesday, Sept. 28, when a second bomb threat was found written in the same bathroom. Londonderry Police and School District administration immediately responded and started an investigation, and again the threat was deemed not to be credible.
LHS Principal Jason Parent sent a letter home to parents that day that said the joint school administration and police investigation indicated the threat lacked credibility but noted that every threat is taken seriously and student safety is the top priority. He said the investigation would continue and precautions would be taken, “but at this time we do not feel that anyone is in danger.”
That second threat was found by a student, who reported it to an assistant principal.
The third incident was discovered just as school was being dismissed Thursday, Sept. 29, and the police response was immediate. The Londonderry Police and School District administration personnel again investigated and again found there was no credible threat.
Police Chief William Hart said the “no credible threat” determination was based on the evidence found. All three threats were written in the same bathroom, all three threats are almost identical and all three threats used similar language and names.
While the bomb threats were enough to alarm parents, some were also concerned at the way the information was relayed to them.
The principal sent out another letter to parents late on the afternoon of Sept. 29, after the third incident was found and investigated. His letter informed parents that “additional police presence” would be in place at the high school Friday, Sept. 30 and Monday, Oct. 3. The letter states students would be signing in and out of classrooms whenever they use the bathroom, and some of the boys’ bathrooms will be shut to limit accessibility.
The letter also asks parents to talk with their children about the seriousness of the written threats against the school, and emphasizes anyone providing information to assist the investigation will be kept anonymous. Parent added, “false public alarm is a felony, and any threats, including false threats, made against our school will result in significant disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion.
“We are taking these extra precautions to ensure a secure climate and to maintain the safety and well-being of all of our students, faculty, and staff,” he said. He noted that Londonderry Police and the school administration “feel it is safe for students and staff to attend school.”
School District Superintendent Nate Greenberg said after the second incident, referring to the letter that went home to parents, that the high school principal had distributed a blast of 2,000 letters and his office had distributed a blast of 4,806 letter shortly after.
The Londonderry Moms Facebook page aired complaints that the notification of the bomb threat on Sept. 28 was not received in a timely fashion, but Greenberg said he had heard of only four complaints and had determined, after consulting with the district information technology (IT) staff, that any delays were the fault of the receivers’ servers or their computer settings.
However, he admitted after the Sept. 29 letter blast was sent out that significant delays occurred. Greenberg said he had immediately contacted IT again and adjustments have been made to the school district servers, changes that are expected to prevent a similar delay in distribution in the future.
He added that the information was put on the scroll on Cable Channel 21, referring parents to the letter on the Londonderry High School Web site at lhs.londonderry.org. He also said he understood parent concern over not receiving the release in a timely fashion and that the delay was unacceptable, noting measures to correct the issue were tested on Sept. 30.
Hart and Greenberg both said the investigation was ongoing and that video camera footage of the bathroom where the threats were written is being reviewed going back to the first threat. Hart said the investigation continues.