, Newburyport, MA

April 23, 2013

school evacuates for Bomb threat

Pentucket students OK'd to return after 4-hour search

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket Middle School students spent much of yesterday morning inside the high school after a threatening note was found inside a bathroom, prompting school officials to evacuate the building.

Superintendent Jeffery Mulqueen said a student found the note around 7:30 a.m. and quickly alerted a teacher. State police joined local police, already at the school in response to last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, and searched the building. Bomb-sniffing K-9 units from Amesbury and the state police also swept the building and grounds.

By 11:30 a.m., students who had been sequestered inside the high school’s auditorium were given the OK to re-enter the school and resume classes.

“We felt secure in the process that was used,” Mulqueen said.

Neither Mulqueen nor West Newbury police Chief Lisa Holmes would comment on the note’s content, saying local and state police are conducting an investigation into the matter. Mulqueen said students may be interviewed and parents are asked to speak with their children and report any pertinent information to his office.

Mulqueen said a Connect Ed phone message regarding the incident was sent to all parents shortly after students returned to the school.

“We take this very serious and are committed to provide a safe and secure learning environment,” Mulqueen said.

In light of the Newtown school tragedy where more than 20 Sandy Hook Elementary students were gunned down last December by a lone gunman and last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, school officials have experienced heightened sensitivity. That prompted the idea of having at least one local police officer at the school when students returned from the weekend.

“We just want to make sure we’re doing the best job that we can,” Mulqueen said.

Anyone with information regarding yesterday’s incident is asked to call the West Newbury police at 978-363-1213 or the superintendent’s office at 978-363-2280. They can also call the school’s confidential hotline at 800-682-9229.