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‘Threat’ prompts evacuation

Officials scour PBHS for ‘possible device’

September 25, 2013
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Philip Barbour High School students were evacuated from the school Tuesday following a threat that Superintendent Dr. Joseph Super said contained language that warranted the evacuation.

Asked Tuesday afternoon if the incident was a bomb threat, Super referred to the matter only as a threat. However, a press release issued from the Philippi Police Department noted that the school was searched for "possible devices." The press release also only refers to the situation as a threat.

"We had a situation at the school today," Super said. "We received a threat and based upon the language in that threat, we evaluated it and felt it to be worthy of evacuating the building. Students were evacuated to the appropriate site, then moved to a more permanent site, and they were cared for there."

The press release states that students were immediately evacuated. Emergency personnel were notified, and the Philippi Police Department, Barbour County Sheriff's Department and the Philippi detachment of the West Virginia State Police all responded.

"I appreciate the students, their compliance with what we had to do today, the staff, all that they did, and the receiving school where our students eventually ended up," Super said.

On Sept. 4, a bomb threat was reported at PBHS but the school was not evacauated. Super said Tuesday the language of the Sept. 4 threat was not such that officials felt an evacuation was necessary.

"This is the second one we've had," Super said. "Based on the information we had at that time, the language wasn't there. It concerned us, but not to the extent that we felt we had to evacuate the building. The language we received this time did cause us to warrant evacuating the building."

On Tuesday, police conducted a manual search of the school building and then K-9 units from the West Virginia State Police Special Operations Unit were brought in to search the complex, according to the press release. The search was completed at 1:30 p.m. Nothing was found, and the students were transported back to the school. The investigation is still ongoing.

"When we are able to identify the students that have done this, the appropriate steps will be taken," Super said. "You don't realize the amount of money that is lost, not to mention the instructional time that's lost. The amount of money with calling the police to assist us in our investigations, bringing a dog in to sweep, and if there's any other auxiliary services that we need.

"If it was up to me, I'd be seeking full restitution to those agencies that had to pull their resources away from their day-to-day responsibility to concentrate them on an act such as this that just takes away from their regular responsibilities," Super said. "I would seek full restitution, and we'd prosecute them to the fullest extent."

Super said the school has cameras in the hallways.

"They do not invade anybody's privacy, but they are stationed where we can see. If we can figure out who went where when, we do an investigation according to that information," Super said. "I appreciate when our kids bring this to our attention. We monitor. Our people are out in the hallways, but when a kid goes here or there, we don't follow them. We don't invade their privacy. That's not what we're here for."



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