IC school officials confident in safety after bomb scare

BY MATT STARNS | AUGUST 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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Classes at Regina High will resume today after a bomb threat Monday morning, and school officials say they have protocols in place should such an event happen again.

Lee Iben, the Regina Catholic Education Center president and CEO, said a female student called with a bomb threat at 8:45 a.m. Monday morning. He said she then called back approximately five minutes later with a more severe threat, causing school administrators to take action. Administrators, faculty, and students evacuated the building shortly after, and classes were canceled.

“It’s unfortunate we have a protocol for this, but we do,” he said. “We evacuated everyone to a safe zone, which was located safely off campus.”

Steve Murley, the superintendent of the Iowa City School District, said he thinks Iowa City schools are prepared should a similar event take place.

“We have processes in place to deal with things like this,” he said, noting new construction and remodeling of schools in the district allows administrators to better monitor traffic in and out of the buildings.

He did say, however, he has never seen an event like this happen in the Iowa City public schools.

“I’ve been here three years, and we have not had anything like this in the time I’ve been here,” he said.

Iben said school officials called police to report the incident, and the Iowa City police and Johnson County Bomb Squad arrived to evaluate the situation.

Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotherton said the final call, which was placed at 8:56 a.m., said there was a bomb in the building. She said officers used dogs to sweep the school.

Brotherton said the sweep was completed without incident, and the dogs did not indicate there was a bomb inside the school.

Regina faculty and staff were allowed to re-enter the building at 1:50 p.m., after the completion of the sweep, Iben said.

“We let them know what was going on and let them ask any questions,” he said.

Brotherton said some officers remained on the scene to investigate and advise the faculty on things to look for in case the sweep had missed a potential threat.

“The faculty will still be on the lookout for anything suspicious, but the dogs did not find anything,” she said.

Brotherton also said the primary investigative focus for the incident has shifted to the phone call and finding those responsible for the threat — though she couldn’t give many specifics.

“It’s going to be treated like any other investigation,” she said. “They’re going to do what they’re going to do.”

Murley said safety continues to be one of the most important priorities for the public School District.

Murley said cooperation from private schools such as Regina in the event of an emergency can be very beneficial — and in this case allowed Iowa City public schools to notify their staff and students in a timely manner.

“We were able to notify our schools,” he said.  “And though we didn’t have to take any action, it was important to keep our students and staff informed.”

DI reporter Lauren Coffey contributed to this story.

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