AUGUSTA – An all too familiar sight during the last school year. Bomb threats forced evacuations at dozens of area schools. Leaders are looking to make, to crack down on that this year.
Last December, an e-mailed bomb threat closes Windham schools for three days. A 16 year old Windham student is charged with eight counts of terrorizing.
Days later, perhaps a copycat. A caller threatens Thornton Academy, forcing an evacuation. TA closed for two days.
And in June, Cony High ends its school year early after three bomb threats in one week. No one has been caught in those cases. But even if they had, Kennebec County D.A. Maeghan Maloney says if they were students, all they’d likely get is a suspension.. The equivalent of slap on the wrist. “We want the consequences to be as severe as possible. And we want to make sure that people know that when they’re making these threats they’re going to be taken seriously.”
“Oh, that’s a tough call with minors. It really is. Because we don’t know what kind of home environments they’re coming from.”S Norma McDonough; Grandchildren in School “The kids having too much internet access. And it’s a plea for attention.”
Maloney says the goal for students caught making bomb threats is not to lock them up, but to get them the help they need. Either way, she says it’s time to take these crimes seriously. “This is not a joke. It’s not a joke to make these threats. It’s causing an enormous amount of financial damage. It’s causing damages to kids’ educations. And it’s causing a lot of problems.”
State Representative Lori Fowle, a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, plans to introduce legislation to beef up the state’s terrorizing laws. She and Maeghan Maloney want there to be more consequences for students, and anyone else, who call in a bomb threat.