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Teachers, administrators discuss false threat with students; school day runs smoothly

School ran smoothly at Concord High School yesterday following false reports of an armed student Tuesday night, Principal Gene Connolly said.

The police received a report Tuesday night that was later found to be false, alleging a student had threatened another with a gun inside the building. The school was evacuated and local police officers and members of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Team searched the building looking for a gun about 9:30 p.m. It was later determined that no gun was involved and the accusing student fabricated her story.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the response to the threat demonstrated the school and the police have appropriate emergency response plans in place, Connolly said.

“It was a good opportunity for us to make sure that our preparedness is on the right level, but it was all unnecessary,” he said.

The police notified Connolly before 7 yesterday morning that no gun was involved, he said. Connolly then held a meeting at 7:15 a.m. with all faculty to brief them on the incident and go over a set of talking points. The major points included sharing with students that no weapon was involved and the building was safe, and reminding them to be wary of reports on social media. Tuesday night, several rumors swirling online and among students turned out to be false, specifically that bloodied students were seen leaving the building. In fact, no one was injured.

Connolly also sent out an email alert to parents at 10 yesterday morning about the situation, and said he didn’t receive any direct calls from parents yesterday. Teachers addressed the issue with students at the beginning of the day, and administrators were visible and available for questions throughout the day. There was no additional police presence on campus.

“We all tried to be out and be very visible and talk with kids,” Connolly said.

He would not comment on whether the two students involved in the incident attended school yesterday.

A team of administrators meets weekly to discuss preparedness and protocol, and there is a system in place for who is notified in an emergency. Tuesday night, Connolly was communicating with Assistant Principals Ben Greene and Steve Rothenberg, who were outside as the situation was unfolding. He was also in contact with Lisa Lamb, his administrative assistant and senior class adviser. As of now, this event will not mean major changes to the school’s procedures, as protocol worked effectively Tuesday night, he said.

“Right now, I think we’re all exhaling,” he said. “People did what they were supposed to do.”

Concord police Chief John Duval also praised the collaboration between the district and the police department.

“At the onset of this investigation, if you will, my department worked very closely with the Concord School District, the superintendent and the principal of Concord High School,” he said. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship, and as far as how the cooperation played out, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @kronayne.)

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