EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 22, 2012

Windham police present, many students not after alleged school threats

Officials don't find any 'credible' threats

WINDHAM — Police stationed cruisers outside schools yesterday for “peace of mind” of the community, though by mid-morning they had concluded a threat allegedly made via social media in Connecticut wasn’t credible.

“No direct threat was ever made to our schools,” Capt. Mike Caron said.

Superintendent Henry LaBranche said absenteeism was up 20 to 25 percent, but acknowledged the upcoming school vacation week may have factored in the number.

LaBranche estimated he had about a dozen responses from parents after informing the community of the possible threat overnight Thursday.

Some just wanted an update.

“Others were concerned and kept their kids home,” LaBranche said.

LaBranche said he was second guessed by some parents who thought he should have canceled school.

But officials at the time were trying to determine whether the threat was credible, he said.

Mindful of the Connecticut school shootings a week ago yesterday, LaBranche alerted families and asked for the police presence throughout the day.

“My decisions have to be for the safety of the kids,” LaBranche said.

The cruisers parked outside main entrances at school.

Inside Windham High, a police officer walked along the corridor.

Even the UPS deliveryman had to press a buzzer and request entry through locked doors, though that was a result of stepped-up security in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings.

Otherwise, principal Tom Murphy said it was business as usual at the high school. Students and staff seemed unperturbed.

Windham High had recent experience with this, however. The school went on alert Monday when a loud, unexplained bang prompted officials, as a precaution, to ask police to search the building.

Windham had company yesterday.

New Hampshire State Police Lt. Chris Wagner, who oversees Troop B in Southern New Hampshire, said troopers went to Bedford High School to assist local police with a bomb threat.

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