Baxter Academy, a charter school based in Portland, turned off its Internet and phone system on Thursday morning to conduct a security check of the computer network following the arrest of one of its students for allegedly sending email threats that shut down public schools in Windham and Raymond.

The student, 16-year-old Justin Woodbury, appeared in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland Thursday and faces two counts of terrorizing, one for each of the email messages that police say included references to weapons and expressions of anger.

Woodbury lives in Windham and used to attend school in that district before enrolling last year at Baxter Academy for Science and Technology, where he is a junior.

The security review at Baxter on Thursday included checking the integrity of information in the schools computer system, said Michele LaForge, Baxter’s head of school.

“We felt it was prudent for the sake of caution to take a look at our network and make sure everyone’s information was safe,” she said. Laforge said the check had found no problems as of late Thursday.

In a letter to parents, LaForge wrote: “This system-wide check today was prudent given that our school was linked through one of our students to emailed threats at another school. In the spirit of caution, we advise all of you to change passwords on any computers your students may have used at school.”

LaForge would not elaborate on how the alleged threats sent by Woodbury raised security questions for the school.

Woodbury’s father, John Woodbury, said Wednesday that his son helped set up the computer network at Baxter.

LaForge denied that on Thursday. “No student would ever install our network,” she said. “(Woodbury) did not install our network or in any way touch our network.”

However, Woodbury did help install software on the school’s computers and was part of a student tech team, she said. The tech team assisted the information technology director and its 8-10 members were closely supervised, she said.

“As for student involvement with school computers,” she wrote in the letter to parents, “there was a tech team last year that worked under close supervision of the IT manager to install software on the new fleet of computers. The tech team is not in existence this year yet and has no bearing on anything happening this week.”

In an interview, LaForge said Woodbury and the tech team helped clean up computers and get computers ready. “He did very low-level tech stuff with supervision,” she said. “We had them doing a little bit of data entry on serial numbers … (but) anytime anybody has to go into a computer, that is an adult.”

Aside from the fact that Internet and phone service had to be disrupted for the security review Thursday, Baxter tried to carry on with a regular school day and did not have any school-wide response to the news that a student had been arrested, LaForge said.

“Our plan today was to do our work. Where there were kids upset or who had questions, we addressed it one-on-one or in groups,” LaForge said.

She said it had been a difficult week and that Baxter officials had been involved in the police investigation of the Windham threats. She would not elaborate.

“When asked to help, we helped to the very best of our ability this week,” she said.

Woodbury’s father said Wednesday that his son left Windham schools because he felt Baxter Academy offered better education in his fields of interest, computers and technology. Baxter is a college preparatory high school focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

Staff Writer John Richardson contributed to this report.

Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottddolan

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