By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Greene County Schools Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh appeared before the Greene Board of Supervisors at their May 13th meeting to make sure they got the facts and offered to answer any questions they had related to the rash of ongoing bomb threats at the Greene County Schools. Also in attendance at the meeting was Sheriff Steve Smith.
During this school year there have now been a total of 14 bomb threats, 3 at the middle school, 9 at the high school and 2 at the Vocational School . Most recently there have been 4 at the high school and middle school. Earlier this week, a meeting was held at the Performing Arts Center where Whitmarsh, Smith and Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Morris answered the public’s questions regarding the ongoing bomb threats.
At the BOS meeting, Whitmarsh indicated that all of the threats have been either writings in restrooms or written notes found in the school, none have been made via telephone. So the assumption is that the threats are being made by students and are being found in the restrooms. Students now have to enter the bathrooms one at a time, have to be logged in and out and a staff member checks the restroom after each use. This is requiring the hiring of substitute teachers to staff this task.
Whitmarsh stated that a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) link will be posted on the schools website for questions that came out of Monday’s meeting . She further explained that during the bomb threats students are evacuated to varying locations – other schools or the football stadium – so there is no repetition on location to ensure student safety. She complimented the cafeteria staff on their ability to feed the displaced students and also thanked Albemarle County for providing bomb sniffing dogs to secure the building. She then opened the meeting to the BOS for any questions they might have.
Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) expressed concern that there could be danger if the schools are complacent and one of the threats turns out to be real. Whitmarsh assured Lamb that each threat is taken seriously.
Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) asked if the threats could be treated as an act of terror. Whitmarsh said that Ron Morris answered that it is not terrorism at the public meeting on Monday.
Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville) asked if a reward would be offered like it was in December? Sheriff Smith stated that one arrest is to be made soon and possibly others by the end of the week. If not, then a reward may be offered next week. Martin also asked if the FBI had been contacted. Smith said that his office had spoken to the FBI and they reviewed the actions of the Sheriff’s office and they indicated they would be doing exactly what is being done.
Supervisor Lamb said he understood that it feels like Marshall law in the high school and middle school. Whitmarsh agreed and that all the students are being punished for the actions of a few. Supervisor Deane said that parents need to understand that one of their children is making the threats.
Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) pushed the idea of using outside resources such as the FBI.
Sheriff Smith stated his belief that his department is handling the threats along with their normal duties with the assistance of state police. He also stated that he will pursue the maximum punishment but if a juvenile then there are limits on punishment.
Superintendent Whitmarsh is working with the school psychologist and many others but stated we just need the threats to to stop.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
Photo Credits: NBC29