Posted on October 22, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Wednesday, Oct 23 at 12:22 PM
CALDWELL -- Seven schools were evacuated Tuesday in the Caldwell and Vallivue school districts. Three of the evacuations were a direct response to a bomb threat and the others because of rumors that spread throughout the districts.
Jefferson Middle School in Caldwell had a second bomb threat called in on Wednesday. Police cleared the school an hour after the call came in. No threat was found.
On Tuesday, the threats came as three separate calls to Canyon County dispatch but one way or another word spread that the threats were more widespread - causing authorities and schools to evacuate four more schools, Van Buren Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Syringa Middle School and Sacajawea Elementary.
Vallivue High School was the first to receive the threat around 10 a.m. Students were sent out to the soccer field while police and bomb dogs searched for explosives.
The two other threats were called in later in the morning to Jefferson Middle School and Washington Elementary.
Police didn't find any evidence of a bomb at any of the schools.
Concerned parents and students took to their phones for the latest information but many parents found themselves with more questions than answers.
But with the students standing and talking about what was going on they began to call their parents. As expected when parents began to get those calls - worry and panic began to set in. Many calling district offices trying to get any information they could.
Meanwhile district offices were trying to get information to parents who are signed up for an alert system that can text, email or call.
However, not many parents are signed up for all of the services. Vallivue Superintendent Pat Charlton said, "We still have room for improvement there, we probably only have half of our parents that we have active numbers for."
In Caldwell, of the roughly 6,300 students only 347 parents are signed up for texts alerts, half for email and about 98 percent for phone calls.
The Caldwell District superintendent says they don't know how the four schools in his district that did not receive a direct threat were brought up in the bomb threat chatter. But to be safe, after consulting with law enforcement, thought it would be best to evacuate.
As for how the districts get information out to parents, both districts say more parents need to sign up so they can be contacted when situations like these arise.
As for the threats, Caldwell Police say it appears the calls came from the same person, possibly a juvenile. Two of the threats came from the same phone. Investigators are now trying to see if they can track that person down.
When we become aware of bomb threats here in the KTVB newsroom, we monitor developments, make calls, and stay updated on the situation to determine if an immediate threat warrants news coverage. Also, if police or the schools need our help in notifying parents, we report the threat and the necessary actions. Because students often widely distribute news and rumors concerning the threat via social media, we have to weigh the benefits of correcting misinformation that may needlessly alarm the public. We are always reluctant to give unnecessary attention to these threats as we are well aware that is sometimes the goal of those behind them.
Calling in a false report of a bomb is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Jefferson Middle School received their second bomb threat on Wednesday morning. Caldwell Police say it was called in at 11:18 a.m. Police cleared the scene about an hour later and found no threat.
During the Wednesday search Jefferson students were in a "soft lockdown" and were not evacuated from the school.
Police believe the Wednesday caller is the same person that called in the threats on Tuesday. They are working leads, trying to track down the person responsible.
Find more information regarding emergency alerts for Caldwell schools here
and Vallivue schools here