State

Officials' handling of Cabarrus Co. high schools bomb threat concerns parents

CONCORD, N.C. - Students at all high schools in Cabarrus County were evacuated from campus and dismissed early on Thursday morning in response to an "anonymous threat," according to school district officials.

A bomb threat was sent in an email to Cabarrus County school board members, according to a captain with the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office.

He said the threat was very specific, which forced authorities and the school district to take the necessary precautions.

After dismissing thousands of students, investigators did sweeps of schools, but they did not find anything suspicious.

Officials said the FBI and local authorities are working to find out who is behind the threat.

Students from all high schools were evacuated and then dismissed early out of an abundance of caution.

The dismissals began immediately, according to district officials, but early colleges are not being dismissed early.

Students at J.N. Fries Middle School were also dismissed early because the school shares a campus with the district's Performance Learning Center. District officials said that car riders could be picked up at Rocky River United Methodist Church on Old Charlotte Road SW.

Other middle and elementary schools in the county were not dismissed.

The bomb squad was called to Hickory Ridge High School after administrators noticed that some ceiling tiles were out of place. Nothing was found inside the school.

The Sheriff's Office said its investigators went to all other high schools, and checked to make sure there were not threats.

Concord police sent an "all clear" to Cabarrus County high school facilities just after 1 p.m. Thursday.

List of Cabarrus County schools that dismissed early:

    Central Cabarrus High
    Concord High
    Cox Mill High
    Hickory Ridge High
    Jay M Robinson High
    Mount Pleasant High
    Northwest Cabarrus High
    J.N. Fries Middle School

A student at Northwest Cabarrus High School said students at the high school were forced to leave class and then were told it was a lockdown drill.

"But then we were down there for about an hour and we knew something was up," Jackson Williford said.

Jill Joyner, a mother of a middle and elementary school student, said she has trouble understanding how the middle and elementary schools, being so close to Northwest High, were not close enough to evacuate.

Officials told WSOC they decided which schools to dismiss after talking with law enforcement.

One parent showed WSOC an email from district officials said she received within minutes of the threat.

Others said they waited hours as students were scattered throughout the bleachers or stood in bunches just outside their high school.

"I received a phone call saying that the middle and elementary (schools) were staying because that was the safest," Joyner said.

Rhonda McClellan, who has a daughter in the middle school, shares the same concerns.

"The middle school is right next to the high school so wouldn't you think you would want children out of the middle school too? " McClellan asked.

School officials didn't explain how the threat could pose a threat to students at the high school and not at the other two schools within a block away.

"I mean if a bomb would have gone off, would that have affected the middle school also, don't you think? McClellan asked.

WSOC's helicopter flew over Cox Mill High School and could see students who had been evacuated standing along the track and sitting in the bleachers by the football field.

School district officials said they were working closely with law enforcement agencies and their priority was to ensure the safety of students and staff.

"We are very glad that Cabarrus County has strong local relationships within the government system," Sheriff Brad Riley stated. "Today's threat response was indicative of how swiftly our agencies and partners can come together to ensure our public is as safe as we can make it."


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