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Local Catholic among those affected by rash of bomb threats

By Mark Labbe
Posted: 1/22/2016

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BOSTON -- Three Catholic schools in the Boston area were among the several local schools that received bomb threats on Jan. 15, causing some of the schools to either shut down for the day or go on lockdown.

The Catholic schools affected were Boston College High School in Dorchester, Arlington Catholic High School and St. Agnes School in Arlington. According to the Massachusetts State Police, also affected were public schools in Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee, Plymouth, and Weymouth.

The threats come amid reports of numerous other threats being made to school districts across the country over the last two months, including schools in California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.

A Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Fire Marshal press release, Jan. 19, noted that "Some of the bomb threats were made by phone. Of those, some were made through automated calls."

The release said "Nothing hazardous was found" at any of the schools.

Jennifer Tegan, director of Marketing and Communications at Boston College High School, told The Pilot in a Jan. 19 phone call that after receiving the threat, the school immediately notified local police.

She said the first officers arrived within minutes, and they performed a full sweep of the buildings and the campus with bomb-sniffing dogs.

After about an hour, Tegan said, the officers gave the school the "all clear." While the officers were searching the premises, the school underwent a "no one in, no one out" policy.

Arlington Catholic High School principal Stephen Biagioni told The Pilot Jan. 20 that after receiving the bomb threat, the school went into a "relocation" phase.

"After we assess what happened, we relocate all students and staff to a safe place," he said.

Police officers and bomb dogs arrived, "closed off the street," and searched the school. At 3:30 p.m. the school was deemed clear. Biagioni said the school was evacuated at 1:30 p.m.

He said the school was kept open later Friday night and on Saturday so students could reenter the building and collect any belongings they left behind. Biagioni noted that everyone was "extremely cooperative."

"I think it's important to follow safety first," but then return to a state of normalcy afterwards, he said.

Only days later on Jan. 19 over a dozen Massachusetts school districts also received bomb threats, as well as at least two schools in Rhone Island.

The Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Fire Marshal said the following school districts received bomb threats Jan. 19: Groton, Weymouth, Taunton, Arlington, Plymouth, Salisbury, Waltham, Ayer, Tewksbury, Newton, Billerica, Swampscott, Boston, Kingston and Westford (Nashoba Valley Tech).