Police are investigating an unspecified bomb threat made against the Sitka School District. The threat was received after students had gone home for the day on Thursday afternoon.
The district office is located at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, received a phone call just before 3 p.m. Thursday. Superintendent Steve Bradshaw says a man called and asked about what services the district provides to students who don’t speak English.
The caller was transferred to another staff member’s voice mailbox, and wasn’t received until about 3:30 p.m.
Bradshaw says the threat was made in that voice mail message.
“The person left a voice message that basically said that they were going to bomb the school if we didn’t listen to them, and then hung up,” Bradshaw said.
Police were notified and the buildings were searched on Thursday afternoon. Authorities, meanwhile, stepped up overnight patrols. At 6:30 a.m. Friday, Bradshaw made the decision to proceed with the school day as normal.
He said he knows there will be lots of questions.
“I know parents are going to be upset they weren’t notified and given the choice that they could keep their kids out of school when we have this type of situation, and I fully respect that,” he said. “At the same time, in other bomb threat types of situations, we would clear the building, but there’s a strong likelihood that we would bring the kids back in, also, after a search of our buildings. So I feel like we pretty much covered what it is that we normally do in this type of a situation.”
Bradshaw said he’ll meet with anyone who would like to discuss the situation.
The unidentified man called back Friday at 11:50 a.m. and again at about 1:15 p.m. Bradshaw said the man did not make any threats during those subsequent calls.
“One of the people in the office did such a great job of keeping the person online that we slipped into my office, called ACS and put a trace on this thing,” he said. “They got a trace on it right away, and that’s how we discovered the number was coming out of California.”
The Sitka School District uses caller ID on its phones, but the call that came in with the threat, and the subsequent calls today, were listed as “private.” Bradshaw says the district will consider whether to try and block private numbers from district phones, but that doing so might be an annoyance to people trying to reach the office for legitimate reasons.
Sitka police are investigating exactly who used that number.