N.H. district closes schools due to threat

Classes will resume in the public schools in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, following an emergency closure on Monday due to a “detailed threat of violence to harm students and staff” at the district’s two high schools, the district’s website reports.

Superintendent Mark Conrad wrote:

All public schools in Nashua will be open tomorrow on Tuesday, December 22nd. The Nashua Police Department has determined that there is no current credible threat to the Nashua School District. To provide an additional level of assurance, you can anticipate an increased police presence around our schools tomorrow.

As Superintendent, I want to thank you for your patience over the last 24 hours. I have every confidence that our schools are safe, and we look forward to the return of our students and staff tomorrow.

The decision to close the schools today came on the heels of last week’s decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District to abruptly cancel school one day last week following a threat that turned out to be a hoax.

The Nashua School District serves 12 elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools, Nashua High School North and Nashua High School South. North serves about 1,750 students, while South serves about 2,250.

After an investigation of all the schools, “no threats or devices of any type were found,” and “there is no current credible threat to Nashua public schools,” the Boston Globe quoted Nashua Police Chief Andrew Lavoy as saying at a press conference this afternoon.

Closing the schools is “a tough decision to make,” Nashua Police Lt Kerry Baxter told WMUR. “These seem to be going on throughout the country. They seem to be happening more frequently, and they are very disruptive on many different levels.”

New Hampshire Gov Maggie Hassan issued a statement about the threat:

Public safety is any government’s most important responsibility—especially at our schools—and we are closely monitoring the situation in Nashua. I have been in contact with Mayor Lozeau and the emergency operations center, and the State Police and state emergency management officials are working closely with the Nashua Police Department, local public safety officials, and the FBI. We will continue to monitor the situation and work together at the state, local, and federal levels to investigate the threat and keep our communities safe.

UPDATE December 27: The New York Times published an analysis of the decision to close schools in the face of threats. “It feeds on itself, because the more you have incidents that do result in harm, the more sensitive people get, and the more strongly they react,” the paper quoted Washington College (in Maryland) President Sheila Bair as saying about the college’s decision to close last month after a student who was facing expulsion was seen buying ammunition. “You’ve got to put the safety of the students first. If someone’s harmed, that’s irreversible.”

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Paul Katula
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