Hartford High School excuses absences after custodian finds bomb threat

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2021 9:39:25 PM
Modified: 12/7/2021 10:25:45 PM

HARTFORD — Some Hartford High School students stayed home from school on Monday after a custodian found a bomb threat in a bathroom stall on Friday and police swept the school over the weekend.

The message on the bathroom stall read: “I’m gonna blow the school up Kaboom on Monday,” according to a message Superintendent Tom DeBalsi sent to families on Sunday.

In response, the district worked with the Hartford Police Department and Vermont State Police to assess the school’s safety. Following a sweep of the building on Saturday morning, officials determined the building was safe to allow a music festival and sports scrimmages to take place that day, DeBalsi said.

On Sunday, the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad and canine teams searched Hartford High School, the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center, and the Regional Resource Center. The search found “no explosives or evidence of explosives” in the schools, DeBalsi wrote on Sunday.

After learning of the threat, Louisa Vandenberg kept both her daughter and foster son home from Hartford High School on Monday, she said.

“I didn’t feel like it was safe,” she said.

Vandenberg also was concerned that by allowing a music festival to occur as planned on Saturday the district may have endangered her daughter and other students who attended the festival.

“Why weren’t people notified before Saturday’s event?” Vandenberg said.

Though police went through the building on Saturday, “The threat was targeted for Monday,” which is why the dogs weren’t brought in until Sunday, DeBalsi said.

There were no other threats to the school coming from social media or other sources at the same time as the writing on the bathroom wall, said Bob Cormier, interim director of police services for the Hartford Police Department.

Police had a “high visibility presence” at the high school Monday morning and students weren’t allowed to bring backpacks into the school, he said. He expects the police presence at the high school will continue this week.

“With that type of isolated threat — something written in a bathroom — it’s really the most you can do,” he said.

DeBalsi was uncertain how many students were out on Monday because “we excused absences today,” he said Monday. Overall, he said, it was a “very quiet, normal day.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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