Note: Below please find an email that is being sent to Stimson families and copied to all district households as a point of information. Additionally, Mr. Smith will be communicating with the Stimson students and parents via phone message over the weekend.

Hi All:

I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with warm memories and well-deserved family time.

As promised, we have been using some of the holiday break time to work through the pre-vacation situation at Stimson that required us to evacuate the building approximately 40 minutes before dismissal. As you might recall, the incident was triggered when a student saw pencil writing on a lab table that said a bomb would go off at 3:05 p.m. in a specific classroom. While all indications were that this was a false posting, we had little time to verify the situation and were required to clear the building. The threat has since been found to be completely without merit, and the police have opened a criminal investigation, which we will join again when school resumes on Monday. It has been our experience that the most helpful information in these types of cases comes from the nearly 1,000 students and staff who might have seen or heard something that aids in the investigation. We are placing our collective efforts in that direction and counting on the teamwork of our Stimson family members who were unacceptably inconvenienced by the actions of a single individual.

As the investigation continues and we work with law enforcement to examine seating charts, hallway cameras, etc., it is critically important to simultaneously reduce the possibility of yet another "copycat" occurrence. Friday's desk writing represented the second incident at Stimson, and we feel obligated to minimize the inconvenience to our students, parents, and staff. To this end, we will be putting together a brief assembly that enables us to address the students, tell them how much we value their cooperative efforts, and stress the fact that they have been inconvenienced by the irresponsible behaviors of a single individual. We hope this reinforces the notion that our students are supported and enhances the internal network, which is ultimately the most successful way of gaining valuable information. Furthermore, we are going to sweep the building every morning and ensure there is no threatening writing or inappropriate items in the school. We will then go on each bus and ask students to give us a quick peek in every backpack. We will do the same thing for walkers who arrive at the front doors. The students can then go to their lockers and classes without interruption, and we can confidently say that no explosive device had been brought into the building. I have used this method in prior districts and found it extremely effective in helping to discredit written and verbal threats. While no system can completely eliminate the possibility of evacuation, minimizing that eventuality removes much of the thrill and negative feedback associated with written threats. We will be working with our staff and students to communicate that this process is in no way indicative of mistrust or a desire to inconvenience over 700 well-behaved, cooperative children. Instead, it is borne of a desire to keep one or two individuals intent on disruption from sending hundreds of classmates and teachers out into the cold. Please understand that this is not a fishing expedition of any sort, so we ask that everyone take this opportunity to share those things that are appropriate to keep in a school backpack.

At this point, given the multiple occurrences and age of the student population, we will be instituting these procedures at Stimson Middle School. The other buildings will continue with the protocols that they have put in place, and we are, of course, prepared to expand our efforts to additional schools if the need arises. It is our sincere hope that these will be temporary measures that can be curtailed once the investigation draws some positive conclusions.

We have also been working on our end to continue improving procedures in the event of a real evacuation need. Earlier in the year we added protocols such as hard copy traveling attendance lists and mobile communication improvements and will now be working with law enforcement to standardize bus entrances that do not conflict with police staging areas. Furthermore, we are ordering marathon-style blankets to have on hand in the event of a real evacuation emergency.

Again, it is important to remember that we have great students, supported by fantastic parents, and dedicated staff. This behavior, which is undoubtedly the act of one or two individuals, does not represent our South Huntington family. The truth is that this is a bump in the road that we will overcome like the wonderful community and team that we are.

Have a very happy New Year.

Dave Bennardo
Superintendent of Schools

Edwin Smith
Stimson Principal