Bomb scare closes Ordway

"The Columbine shooting cast a shadow over Bainbridge schools this week, as a bomb scare closed Ordway Elementary School Monday. Parents and school buses were called to escort some 400 students home as police searched the building throughout the afternoon.We have decided to respond as if this were an imminent threat, said Steve Rowley, superintendent of Bainbridge Island schools.The threat had actually been made five days earlier - left on a staff member's voicemail - but the instructor reportedly was away at a conference and the message went unchecked until Monday. Although the police believe the incident had the earmarks of a malicious prank, the emergency procedure Monday left nothing to chance. The school was evacuated, parents were notified, and police used bomb-sniffing dogs to thoroughly search the building. No bomb was found, and school resumed Tuesday.Bainbridge Police Chief Bill Cooper described the threat as very generic...pretty clearly disguised juvenile voices. Still, treating the incident seriously was a reasonable precaution by school officials, he said.A year ago, a bomb threat closed Bainbridge High School for a day, and Monday's incident marked within a few days the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo. Rowley believes a genuine bomber would have used a more reliable means of communication than voicemail, and said he was also loathe to suspect an Ordway student prank, because the school has no history of pupil-teacher antagonism.The school is making the best of a bad situation, said one Ordway mother. She was pleased that additional counseling staff would be available in view of the emotional impact of the incident.This is scary stuff, she said.Parents, pupils and teachers alike said they were satisfied by the smooth and orderly fashion in which the scare was handled.These days, it is best to err on the side of safety, said Ken Crawford, vice superintendent for schools.Parents were notified of the incident in a letter sent home with students."

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