A bomb threat at Pikeland Community school tested the emergency response of both school administrators and law enforcement Monday afternoon.
A note of threatening nature was found near the end of the school day Monday at Pikeland Community School. The note was found in the northern pod of the building. The northern pod houses sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The note said a bomb would go off at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Following an approximate four-hour investigation, a female student at the school was questioned about the note. The girl has been removed from the school and is being dealt with by professionals, according to Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty.
"The note was allegedly found in a corridor with approximately eight minutes left in the school day," Petty said. "It was allegedly found by a student, who showed it to two friends and the three brought it to school administration's attention."
Petty said once the note was received, school authorities immediately implemented their plan to deal with such situations.
"Law enforcement was summoned, extra-curricular events scheduled for the building were cancelled and the building was emptied," Superintendent Paula Hawley said. "It all went according to plan."
Hawley said the building was already in dismissal mode when the note was discovered.
Law enforcement officers from the state, county and city met at Hawley's office and formulated a plan for the investigation.
A search of the building was performed, although law enforcement was confident no device would be found.
"As we studied the note and its contents, law enforcement officers were initially led to believe that the resources needed to take it to the next level were not accessible," Petty said. "The note was disturbing but did not mention any specific individual, just the student body as a whole."
Once the author was identified and taken into custody and the school thoroughly searched, law enforcement and school officials felt there was no reason not to have school Tuesday. Law enforcement officers from the three responding agencies greeted students at the entries of both Pikeland Community School and Pittsfield High School.
"It was just for reassurance," Hawley said. "The kids were fine. We had some apprehensive parents but attendance is normal at all facilities."
Petty said had the situation not been totally resolved the approach might have been different.
"If we had thought there was still a danger. If we had found something else or we hadn't identified theauthor, we would have been searching bags, questioning students, that sort of thing," Petty said. "We determined that was not necessary."
Given the time the note was found, many students were not aware of the situation.
Students and families were notified via the school's School Reach program of the situation and its resolution.
School Reach can call every household in the school district with messages about happenings at the school, such as emergency dismissals and other incidents.
In this case the system was implemented about 8:15 p.m. or once the finishing touches had been put on the investigation. Calls explained the situation, said the author of the note had been apprehended and the threat of any danger had passed. It also said school would be in session Tuesday.
The author of the note will face disciplinary action, according to Hawley.
"The longest suspension we can give is 10 days," Hawley said. "We most likely will have a special meeting sometime in the next 10 days to determine what disciplinary action will be taken. Anything longer than 10 days requires board approval."
Pike County State's Attorney Frank McCartney said he was awaiting reports from law enforcement before determining what charges might be filed in connection with the incident. Possible charges could range from a misdemeanor disorderly conduct to a felony charge.
Both Petty and Hawley said Tuesday morning the evaluation process of the response by school and law enforcement was in the early stages, but both thought the situation was dealt with appropriately and handled well by their respective entities.
The incident was similar in those at Liberty, Camp Point, Brown County and Western Illinois University recently.