Aftermath of HHS Bomb Threat Brings Debate

There has been some debate over whether a telephone alert to Haverhill school parents, during Monday afternoon’s “low level bomb threat” at Haverhill High School, should have been issued.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini reported on social media Monday evening “all worked out well” regarding the response by emergency personnel to a reported robocall threat which prompted a lockdown at the high school. Students were sheltered in place for nearly two hours before police and other investigators declared the situation “cleared.” During the lockdown, an e-mail alert was sent to parents by Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent James F. Scully, asking parents to “refrain from coming to the high school.”

“The superintendent tells me that the situation was resolved before they needed to do the robo call,” Fiorentini said on Facebook.

In a statement, Scully said a telephone call was received early Monday afternoon at the high school alleging there was a bomb in the school.

“Immediately the Haverhill Police Department responded along with the State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and Massachusetts Environmental Police, with these agencies’ trained bomb sniffing dogs,” Scully said. “The proper protocols and procedures were followed as directed by both federal and state law enforcement agencies. It was determined that the threat was low level and a ‘stay in place’ was instituted until the situation was fully resolved.”

“The rapid and comprehensive response by federal, state and local law enforcement allowed for the high school to be dismissed on time and in an orderly and safe fashion,” Scully added.

Meanwhile, parents and others sounded off on Facebook, some contending they were better informed by texts and pictures sent by their children from inside the high school.

“My daughter was texting me (pictures) of canines walking outside school at (approximately) 2 p.m. She was shuttled into her room long before that and no calls to parents…she was told it was a drill,” wrote Dianne Provencher. “I was there at 1:45 until dismissal waiting with other very worried parents.”

“The fact is not all parents have access to social media and the automation call system should have been utilized. That is why it is there,” Steve Wojtas added. “We are notified of school cancellations 24 hours in advance of a pending snowstorm so why not for a bomb threat? Hopefully you as well as the superintendent take these comments as constructive criticism and have some sort of corrective action put in place in the event this happens again, hopefully it won’t. After all it is about the safety of our children is it not?”

Former Haverhill City Councilor Diane Boulanger Prescott wrote, “Fabulous job handling the matter. Thanks to our mayor and City of Haverhill departments and state emergency responders!”

Haverhill police have yet to respond to WHAV’s requests for comment about the “ongoing criminal investigation.” State and federal agencies joined the investigation in connection with several other robocall threats made Monday to schools in Massachusetts.

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