School officials take all threats seriously for a reason - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

School officials take all threats seriously for a reason

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Students at Warren Central Junior High School in Vicksburg were evacuated from the campus Wednesday after authorities responded to a bomb threat just after noon. This time, the threat was real.

Police brought in a bomb-sniffing dog that found an IED in a book bag. The Clinton Bomb Squad detonated the device around 3:30 p.m.

Officials say two students have been detained, but neither has been charged with a crime at this time.

This is a scene that has become all too familiar to students on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The incident in Vicksburg is a reminder why school officials and law enforcers take every one of these threats seriously.

This year alone, at least nine bomb threats have been made against schools across the Coast. The most recent was Wednesday morning at Ocean Springs Upper Elementary.

Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter, Superintendent of the Ocean Springs School District, said a threatening note was found at the school, and students were evacuated for about 30 minutes while police checked the building with a bomb-sniffing dog.

Police did not find an explosive device on this day, but Coleman-Potter said ignoring a threat like this is never the answer. Coleman-Potter said teachers, students and administrators follow the same protocols, no matter how insignificant the threat may seem.

When it comes to crisis management, preparedness is key. That’s why the school district conducts drills often.

Students drill for different scenarios such as fires, tornadoes and active shooters. According to Coleman-Potter, the repetition builds confidence in the teachers, and that translates to calmness in the students.

“I want our children to remain calm, especially in these types of situations,” said Coleman-Potter. “One of the worst things that can happen in this kind of situation is for pandemonium to exist. The children feed off of our energy. When they see us remain calm, they typically remain calm as well.”

Coleman-Potter said another important aspect of crisis management is communication between the school district, law enforcement, parents and the community. The goal is to move quickly and efficiently and be transparent as the situation evolves.

“We need to communicate with parents because they trust us with their children every day. It is important to communicate effectively with our parents and the community.”

Above all, Coleman-Potter said she always wants her students to feel safe in school and remember that they are in a secure learning environment.

The superintendent has a message for anyone who makes any kind of threat against a school filled with students.

“Nothing about this is funny. It can be dangerous, and depending upon your age, it is a felony.”

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