Thursday, January 23, 2020
US flag

Mass., Ohio led in 2015-16 school bomb threats

Police and the FBI don’t exactly keep track of the number of bomb threats made against schools, but news reports suggest the number went up sharply last year, compared to the 2012-13 school year, the Associated Press reports.


Anti-Terrorism unit responds to a simulated bomb threat and evacuation. (US Army Garrison Red Cloud/Flickr CC)

Based on media reports, 135 bomb threats were made against schools in Massachusetts, and 96 were made against schools in Ohio. Citing an educational administration instructor at Ashland University in Ohio, the AP estimates that 1,267 bomb threats were made nationwide against schools during the 2015-16 school year, representing about twice as many as in 2012-13.

“Schools are in a really bad position,” the AP quoted Amy Klinger of Ashland as saying. “People are going to be mad if you evacuate; people are going to be upset if you don’t evacuate.”

But when schools evacuate, the disruption can be substantial. We reported last year that the Los Angeles Unified School District sent hundreds of thousands of students home for a day based on a phoned-in bomb threat that officials took seriously. We also reported that New York City schools had received a similar bomb threat but dismissed it without evacuating the schools.

Following that, it seemed, bomb threats were coming in on a regular basis. The AP estimates that schools receive about eight per day, and those are just the bomb threats that are phoned in—or written on toilet paper in the bathroom or on a wall, or who knows where.

Officials know that real bombers don’t usually phone ahead. “I’m more worried about the threat that I don’t know about rather than the threat that I do,” the AP quoted Joe Hendry, a veteran Kent State University police officer and a trainer and consultant on threat responses.

But even false alarms bring grave consequences, such as lost instruction time, a costly response from law enforcement and student safety personnel, and a greatly reduced sense of security on the part of students, staff, parents, and other members of the community.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.