Canton Middle School was evacuated Monday after a bomb threat was found on a restroom wall.
A bomb dog was taken through the school, but no bombs were found, and students were returned to the building after about an hour.
“The nature of the note was specific enough that we had to take it seriously,” Haywood County Schools Superintendent Bill Nolte said.
Nolte said that when they discover a threat, they look through the lens of experience to determine if it’s credible. Sometimes, it’s obvious whether a threat is credible or not.
“The information we have right now doesn’t give us either of those clear indicators,” Nolte said Monday while the evacuation was in progress.
Thus, they erred on the side of caution.
“It was real until it wasn’t, when the bomb dog left,” Nolte said.
Nolte and his two associate superintendents made fast tracks for Canton Middle School as soon as the note was found on the bathroom wall.
“I put on my flashers and made it from central office in Waynesville to Canton Middle in eight minutes,” Associate Superintendent Trevor Putnam said.
Students were moved to the Pisgah stadium, but the location was kept secret until students were safely inside and a perimeter guard of law enforcement officers was in place.
The school system doesn’t want potential perpetrators knowing where students are being taken.
“This time it was the stadium. Next time it could be somewhere else,” Nolte said.
Notifications were sent to parents to keep them apprised of the situation. The first alert told parents that students were being relocated, but didn’t say where. Once the students were secured inside, a second alert told parents where they had been taken, and gave them the option of picking up their kids with the caveat that access was being tightly controlled by a perimeter guard.
“Parents attempting to pick up students, may experience a delay due to the safety precautions that are in place,” Nolte reported in one of the updates to parents.
An investigation is now underway to determine who wrote the message.
This is the first year that Canton Middle School has had is own dedicated school resource officer. Canton Middle and Bethel Middle previously shared a school resource officer, who split his time between the two campuses.
“We want to thank everyone who assisted in securing the campus, evacuation procedures, and clearing the building,” Nolte said. “We could not effectively handle situations like this without our law enforcement and other great emergency response partners.”