ADAMS TWP — Mars School District officials are working with township police as they investigate threats of violence that caused them to cancel school Friday and order evacuations throughout the week.
“The rumor was of a bomb threat and shooting to happen at our (high school) Friday,” Superintendent Wes Shipley said.
The nature of information district officials received about the threats was not clear Friday morning.
This is the third threat this week the district has responded to. Students were evacuated from the high school on Tuesday and Wednesday following bomb threats. With the added threat of a potential shooter, Shipley said it was best to close the school Friday for the safety of students and staff.
“A shooter isn't something we can search for — like a bomb threat,” he said in an email response to questions. “Because the rumor was vague, best to close all buildings in the effort to keep everyone safe.”
Dayle Ferguson, school board president, thanked first responders and said the school is working with its safety and security coordinator, Louis Gentile, to see if there's anything the district can do to better keep staff and students safe.
“He's working with the district to review what we have in place now,” she said. “We've been in contact with him through this process.”
The district will seriously consider any improvements he suggests, she said.
Once police identify the perpetrators of the threats, Shipley and Ferguson said the district plans to press charges to the full extent of the law.
“Threats are not funny,” Shipley said. “With the help of our police, we will find out who is responsible and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and school policy. This includes expulsion hearings, criminal charges and restitution which will run in the thousands of dollars.”
He reiterated the importance of safety and asked parents to be sure to speak to their children about the severity of threats like these.
“Maintaining a safe and secure building for children and staff is most important,” he said. “We take these threats seriously and ask our families to have serious conversations about the events of this week.”
Shipley said the district will decide after talking with police this weekend, whether or not to reopen the school Monday.
Adams Township police could not be immediately reached for comment Friday morning, but Ferguson said the department has been working closely with the district throughout the week.
“We are overwhelmed with the support of our local first responders who have been with us every step of the way as we've dealt with these issues throughout the week,” she said.