Two Guam Department of Education schools were evacuated today as a result of what seems to be a trend of written bomb threats. The Guam Police Department is investigating to find out the persons responsible for these threats because according to GPD it’s costing the community.
Guam – It’s one bomb threat after another within a week, and well, today, within a day.
GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez says, “Pretty frustrating today. We had another bomb threat at Southern High School that forced us to call in law enforcement as we evacuate the school and we went through the school for a sweep before we could declare it safe. That happened around 11 this morning and students were evacuated for about an hour and a half. After that they returned to class after it was cleared.”
This is the third time in a week that Southern High School had to evacuated. Principal Rosalin Meeks says the bomb threat was written in a piece of paper found inside a trash can in one of the restrooms. Just yesterday, students were sent home early because of a bomb threat found written on a cafeteria bench. While law enforcement officials, both local and federal, were addressing the situation at Southern, another bomb threat was discovered. This time, at a middle school.
Fernandez explains, “At the same time, as we were responding to Southern High, we received word of a threat on the wall of Agueda Johnston Middle School.”
Guam Homeland Security says they received a report at around 12:15 p.m. Agueda was also evacuated, a sweep was also conducted. Both schools were given the all clear and classes resumed.
Fernandez says, “This has been a pattern over the last week so we’re very concerned. These series of threats is clear that these are pranks and I don’t know what the motive might be but we’re very eager to identify the individuals who may be responsible and we’reworking with GPD to do that.”
Fernandez reminds students that calling or writing bomb threats is classified by DOE and GPD as terroristic conduct. Notwithstanding the criminal actions taken by the police, students found guilty of this offence are subject to suspension and possible expulsion. “We really want to discourage any further activities or pranks like this. We had to take more stringent security measures at SSHS, SHS and possibly Agueda. I know students have contacted me. Even though they were upset with the evacuation and rules being imposed. A lot of them understand to keep the schools safe. They’re more upset at students who are doing this,” he says.
There are consequences for the entire school as well. Fernandez explains that not only do schools have to take security measures, but students might have to make up for instructional time lost. “It’s one thing if it’s just one day and it’s an hour after lunch. Typically we don’t make up those days but because this is happening multiple times so if you add those up you’re losing possibly a whole day of instruction,” he says.
The Guam Police Department also says enough is enough. “It’s hitting the community. We’re seeing the effects of the cost. We have to employ our K-9 units, both local and federal, and of course our EOD from Andersen and the Navy. We want to ask the students within the schools, now is the time to say enough is enough. We’ve seen a lot of interruption in class, a lot of the kids are graduating in April or May. They’re losing a lot of class time and they’re going to have to make that up.”
The most recent bomb threat at Agueda Johnston Middle School marks the seventh bomb threat GDOE received within a week. A sweep was also conducted at Simon Sanchez High School because of a written bomb threat set for today but the all clear was given this morning.