Upset with how a bomb threat hoax was handled earlier that day, parents of Waterville Central School District students told administrators and Board of Education members where they believed the District failed to consider what was best for their children.
For about 90 minutes at the start of last week’s BOE meeting, parents spoke angrily, emotionally and specifically about what they and their children went through that morning. Board members and WCS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring agreed that the matter could have been handled differently to eliminate some of the problems that arose.
Tops among their complaints was lack of communication until the incident was almost done, having their children witness law enforcement check the schools without knowing it was a hoax and putting Junior-Senior High students into their building before it was completely determined there was no bomb.
On the morning of April 4, Waterville was one of more than 50 districts in the state, according to a letter sent out that day by Gov. Kathy Hochul, that received the same email in a swatting plot sent by as of yet an unidentified person. The email did not specify a district or a building, but said there was a bomb inside; the sender also asked for money to call off the bombs.
Spring said the email was sent around midnight and she saw it shortly after 5 a.m. The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department said they were alerted to the matter at 5:20 a.m.
Spring, who could tell other districts received the same email threat, told the 75 or so people at the meeting law enforcement determined immediately it was not a credible threat. New York State Police were also involved in the determination and discussion, she said.
However, both schools still needed to be swept for any bombs before the buildings could open. “We put a plan into place with the bomb squads and K-9 units,’’ Spring said. “I notified Board of Education members and the Administration team.’’
Two other area districts received the same threatening email. Frankfort-Schuyler closed for the day and Canastota’s buildings were cleared before students arrived.
In Waterville, buses drove to the Junior-Senior High and Memorial Park School with students on board. Students remained on the buses for about 90 minutes, watching law enforcement and the dogs go into the building and check outside without knowing what was happening.
Students who drove or were dropped off were told to go into the Junior-Senior High cafeteria and then gymnasium after those rooms were cleared but the rest of the building was being searched.
Through ParentSquare an email went to parents around 8 a.m. notifying them of the incident. By then many parents had been contacted by their students, who said they had no idea what was happening or if it was real or a hoax.
Law enforcement concluded their check of the buildings by 8:40 a.m., allowing school to open. By then a number of parents had come to get their kids off the buses while many students who drove had left.
Parents questioned a number of steps taken by the District.
Andrew Hirschman, who said he had spent…