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Dundee parents hear from officials

DUNDEE—Over 400 parents attended a meeting at Dundee Central School Monday, March 8 after four hand written bomb threats were found and a threatening text message circulated to students, all within 11 days of each other. These threats continue to disrupt education, cause anxiety for students and staff, and cause alarm and worry for parents in the district. As a result, rumors have begun to run rapid through the community. “We realize how stressful it truly is on everyone,” Interim School Superintendent Kathy Ring said.
Students and staff were evacuated from the school after written bomb threats were found during school hours Monday, Feb. 22, Tuesday, Feb. 23, and Tuesday, March 2. A fourth threat was found during after school hours Thursday, March 4.
Each time the threats were found, students and staff were evacuated and sent to their designated sites throughout the village. A complete sweep of the school was conducted by Yates County Sheriff’s deputies, state police, a state K-9 bomb dog and school resource officers, without turning up explosives. “We have an emergency plan and the protocol was followed,” Ring said.
Security was also increased Friday, March 5, after a mass text message, sent from restricted sources, circulated late Thursday, and claimed that Friday would be the day of the bombing. About 300 kids were absent from school Friday, and more left before the end of the day. The district’s enrollment is between 800 and 850 students.
Parents are under their own discretion as whether or not to send their children to school; however, according to the school’s attorney, these absences are considered illegal. School officials will not close the school, because it will postpone any events and lengthen the investigation.   
Ring does want parents to feel safe about sending their children to school. Many precautions are being taken to ensure safety, including limiting opportunities for students in the halls and having only a few bathrooms unlocked with monitors present. Only two entrances to the school building are open, and anyone who enters the building must pass through a metal detector, while their belongings are searched by sheriff’s deputies and school staff. No one has been strip searched.
After-school activities were cancelled, but a modified spring sports schedule was implemented Tuesday, March 9 and will be followed with ample security until the investigation is over. The school play “The Pajama Game” will also be held Thursday, March 11 and Friday, March 12 at 7 p.m.
“You may not agree with everything and that’s perfectly OK, but what we are doing, we are doing for the best interest of your kids,” Ring said. She also confirmed this security will continue until someone is caught, and security can be increased if needed.
If the school is evacuated again, shelter sites will be searched as they are unlocked. Once all of the students are evacuated a Connect Ed message will be put out to all numbers parents give as emergency contacts. Ring asks that parents who wish to pick up their child do so once they reach their designated shelter, so students can be counted for.
The investigation into these threats continues and Ring says the district is doing everything it can to find out who is responsible. School officials have talked to students, not interrogated them, and will continue to talk to them to develop information.
Parents are being asked to monitor their children’s social networking and text messaging, activity, that is happening outside of school and to check their bags before they leave for school. “Parents, listen carefully to what your children are talking about, because they may have some important information that would help the investigation along. We would like to get to the bottom of it very soon,” Ring said.
Since this is still an active investigation into falsely reporting an incident in the first degree, the Yates County Sheriff’s office is declining to offer information about leads. Sergeant John Warner of the Yates County Sheriff’s Department has, however, confirmed that they have narrowed down a list of students.
Since the threats have been in a school building, the crime is a Class “D” felony that can carry a serious state prison incarceration and those involved will also face a school hearing.
“Information sharing is critical and we cannot be paralyzed by fear,” Yates County Chief Deputy Howard R. Davis Jr. said during the parent meeting.
Anyone with information is asked to call 315-536-4438. Informants may also call anonymously to the crime tip hotline at 315-536-5558. The sheriff’s office is offering a cash reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or person responsible for these threats.

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