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Schools review policies in wake of threats

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:48 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ohio- (WTAP) - For four days, beginning last Thursday and ending Tuesday, particularly in Waterford, the school day was interrupted, and even halted, by a series of safety threats.

Most were bomb threats, but Friday, there was a report of an active shooter threat.

“Look at the school administrators and officials who initially took these phone calls, went to their safety plan and did exactly what they needed to do,” Mark Warden, Chief Deputy, Washington County Sheriff’s office, said at a briefing Tuesday, “and the stress it puts on them.”

But the two school systems affected the most, Wolf Creek and Fort Frye, believe their safety plans worked well.

The two, headquartered in Waterford and Beverly, are adjacent to each other. Wolf Creek’s Waterford Elementary and High Schools, are within a couple of miles of Fort Frye’s Beverly Elementary and Fort Frye High School.

“Monday, we literally did the evacuation or dismissal with no glitches,” says Douglas Baldwin, Superintendent, Wolf Creek Local Schools. “We’re very proud of that. At the same time, we probably had too much practice over the previous days. We don’t want to get in the habit of having to do this, but we want to be prepared for when this does occur.”

This year, Fort Frye has had a resource officer, a Washington County sheriff’s deputy with a K-9 unit. He was involved in security efforts after the threats were reported.

Both school systems expect to make minor changes, if any at all, in their security plans.

“We also provide staff training annually,” says Stepnanie Starcher, Superintendent, Fort Frye Local Schools. “We make some notes immediately, but in June, we spend more time with it, and again in August, before all students and staff return, to try to fine tune it.”

Fort Frye does want to consider the information it puts out on its social media platform: information an individual wanting to cause trouble may be monitoring as well.

Meanwhile, Nicholas John Frances Hall was arrested Tuesday in the town of Thomson, Georgia, and faces charges of inducing panic and making terroristic threats.

Court records say Hall had also recently lived in Minersville, Pennsylvania.

The Washington County Sheriff’s office continues its investigation.

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