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Central Hardin High School received its third bomb threat in almost three months Monday, causing students and staff once again to evacuate the building briefly around noon.
It, like the past two, came to the attention of school administrators through a note. Monday’s message specified a time in which the building allegedly would be in danger.
School administrators notified Elizabethtown Police Department. A sweep was performed in the building to search for any possible danger, but nothing was found and the building was deemed safe for everyone to return, said John Wright, community relations director for Hardin County Schools. Students were outside for 20 to 30 minutes, he said.
District and school officials are frustrated by continuing disruptions in the school day, but they must act in the safety of students despite questionable credibility of any threats, Wright said.
“Any threat we find like that we have to take seriously,” he said.
Wright said administrators informed students schools are required to meet 1,062 hours of instructional time for the year. If Central becomes in danger of not meeting that requirement, time will be made up.
Bobby Lewis, associate superintendent for student services, said students must have 60 hours of instructional time to earn a half-credit for a course, and that potentially could be more of an issue than the yearly requirement, if threats continue.
Parents were informed of the threat through the district’s One Call communication system after students returned to the building.
Parent Melissa Howard contacted the district’s Central Office about the timeliness of the automated telephone alert. She thinks messages could be sent sooner and haven’t always been very informative.
Wright said the first priority of the school and district is ensuring students are safe and that’s accomplished before making the call. He estimated today’s call was issued less than half an hour after the evacuation.
EPD spokesman Virgil Willoughby said building sweeps generally are performed by people who work within the school and are familiar with it. The note will be processed as evidence.
Willoughby said investigators aren’t ruling out all three threats could be coming from the same person or group. Those responsible could be charged with terroristic threatening, which is a Class C felony and could result in a six- to 10-year prison sentence.
Wright said district and school administrators are urging anyone with any information to notify police or the district.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or email@example.com.