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Fake bomb threats cause safety concerns in MCPS

The+Activist+Club+discusses+school+safety+and+how+MCPS+can+keep+students+safe.
Photo by Rebekah Buchman
The Activist Club discusses school safety and how MCPS can keep students safe.

Fake bomb threats have plagued multiple MCPS schools over the past month. Eventually, the police linked the threats to a 12-year-old boy who cannot be charged for his offenses, due to his age.

Blair has been targeted multiple times, including on Oct. 13, Oct. 16, Oct. 17, Oct. 23 and Oct. 24. Montgomery County IT Staff were able to identify a 12-year-old who had sent a total of seven bomb threats to schools including Blair, Oak View Elementary School and Silver Spring International School on Oct. 15.

Maryland law says that people cannot be charged under the age of 13 unless they committed a crime of violence, which in this case doesn’t qualify, police chief Marcus Jones said in a statement released on Oct. 25. The child was aware that he could not be charged under current Maryland law. Even though the child cannot be charged, there will be actions taken by MCPS according to the Student Code of Conduct.

Montgomery County police have also charged a 15-year-old student for calling in a fake bomb threat on Oct. 26. Detectives charged the juvenile with making threats of mass violence.

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Not only has this caused students emotional stress but it has also taken up valuable time and resources. Jordan Satinsky, director of the Montgomery County Police Department’s Community Engagement Division, estimates that Montgomery County Police have spent over $20,000 responding to fake bomb threats. The typical response for a fake bomb threat takes about 15 officers.

Students may be worried that the school is not taking security seriously. “One time I can remember I saw two Seneca Valley students walking around during the school day and the security guards just told them to go back to class. They didn’t even ask them if they went here,” senior Nico D’Orazio said.

Other students feel perfectly safe at school and are not concerned about security issues, “I feel safe at Wootton because I feel like there haven’t been many instances where people have brought anything into school,” sophomore Nishikaa Poona said.

On Nov. 16, the Activist Club met to discuss local safety issues concerning the recent bomb threats. Students discussed how we could keep our school safe with possible solutions. Scanning school IDs to get into schools, keeping doors locked and having harsher security standards were all considered.

The SMOB’s Advisory Board took action by creating a petition to create necessary changes in MCPS safety policies. Students can sign this petition, testify before the Board of Education and support student advocates in Montgomery County to create an effective change.

MCPS has counseling services available for anyone who might need them during this time due to the stress and anxiety that these threats cause students, teachers and other faculty.

This story was originally published on Common Sense on November 27, 2023.