SABATTUS — More than two dozen parents and almost an equal number of staff members from Regional School Unit 4 gathered for a public discussion Thursday about the recent rash of bomb threats at schools in Litchfield, Sabattus and Wales.

Schools in all three towns in Regional School Unit 4 were sites of bomb threats in April, and three students have been suspended pending action by the school board. One is facing criminal charges and the others will be soon, said Superintendent Jim Hodgkin.

“They are not in school and will not be in school for a period of time,” Hodgkin said. “When they return, we will look at how we can support them in transition and support the parents as well.”

He said the parents of the children feel horrible and are taking the incident seriously.

He also said he might not be able to identify the culprit in at least one of the high school threats.

“Because it’s criminal matter, very little information can be made available,” Hodgkin told the people Thursday night.

He did say that the child was caught within one hour of the April 25 bomb threat at Carrie Ricker School. He attributed the quick identification of some suspects to cameras in the schools.

Cpl. Scott Mills of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, who investigated the bomb threats at Carrie Ricker School, said that he interviewed an 11-year-old girl who was a suspect and that she did not realize the ramifications of her actions.

“I don’t think she knew what she was doing,” Mills said

The school board is meeting in three separate executive sessions beginning at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Oak Hill Middle School to consider disciplinary action involving two students at Carrie Ricker School and one at Oak Hill Middle School.

The threats were made in the girls’ bathrooms at Carrie Ricker, Oak Hill Middle and Oak Hill High schools.

Samantha Locke, of Litchfield, a junior at the high school, said the two bomb threats at her school caused her little anxiety, so she had no qualms about returning.

“I knew it was phony,” she said. “It was kind of ridiculous,”

However, her parents, Patrick and Penny Redmond, pulled their 5-year-old son, Conlen Redmond, from the pre-kindergarten class at Libby-Tozier School — which did not get a bomb threat — and have yet to determine whether to send him back.

They said they were in constant contact with their daughter because she had a cellphone, but that would not be the case with their son.

Sophomore Frank Smith, of Sabattus, said he was somewhat worried because he suffers from anxiety, but he too had no problem returning. “I knew it was a prank,” he said.

In all the bomb threats, the students were evacuated to other schools in the district and parents were notified.

Some parents, however, said they did not receive some of the alerts the superintendent sent out.

Hodgkin said a lot of parents of high school students took them home after they were evacuated.

“That’s not helpful,” Hodgkin said. “What’s helpful is making them stay and letting them come back.”

Hodgkin said students with cellphones and social media postings “created more of a headache than anything else.” He said that resulted in him being flooded with phone calls within five minutes of a school being evacuated.

“There are almost 1,500 students in the school,” Hodgkin said. “I don’t have time to respond to 500 to 600 phone calls.”

He said the safety of the children is his primary responsibility and he goes to the scene and supports the administration. Hodgkin said he follows the advice of law enforcement and sends out factual information when he can.

One mother of a fifth-grader at Carrie Ricker School said she went to the school immediately after one bomb threat and her son ran off the bus to her.

She said teachers and other school staff members talked to him as he walked with her, telling him, “Liam, everything’s OK. Just go home with Mom. Everything’s going to be all right.”

Her son is back in school, she said.

The earlier bomb threat occurred April 2 at the high school. Four other threats occurred April 22, Oak Hill Middle School, Sabattus; April 23, Oak Hill High School, Wales; and April 25 and 26, Carrie Ricker School, Litchfield.

 

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