20 Aug 2014
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UPDATE: Mars Area High School Evacuated After Bomb Threat

The district will increase security at the school Tuesday.

UPDATE: Mars Area High School Evacuated After Bomb Threat

Mars Area High School was evacuated Monday afternoon after the district learned of a bomb threat at the school.

“Upon notification of the threat, the district immediately contacted Adams Township Police Department and is taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff members,” Superintendent Dr. William Pettigrew said in a note to parents on the  district's website.

All students were sent to Mars Area Middle School while police and district staff members conducted a sweep of the building. The high school students were dismissed at the end of the school day from the middle school, Pettigrew said.

With the exception of an away boys basketball game, all evening activities at the high school also were canceled for Monday.

Josh Schwoebel, director of communications for Mars, said the threat was discovered at about 1:30 p.m. Following district procedure, the high school students were immediately shepherded from the building, he said.

Pettigrew said he was unable to discuss details of how the threat was discovered because it is still under investigation by police. He said this is the first bomb threat he could recall at the high school since 2003.

Traffic also was tied up Monday as police blocked Route 228 while teachers escorted about 1,000 students from the high school to the middle school, Pettigrew said. The students were placed in the school's gymnasium and common areas until school was dismissed.

Pettigrew said parents were notified of the situation by email and through the district's alert system once the students were safety inside the middle school.

"The first thing we did was concern ourselves with the safety of the students and all the employees," he said. "By the time we got that taken care of, we sent the notice. We were more concerned about making sure the students were safe."

Adams police worked with K9 units from Allegheny County to inspect the school and grounds, including vehicles in the high school parking lot, he said. The vehicles were released to their owners once they had been checked over by the bomb-sniffing dogs.

Pettigrew said there would be an increase in security at the high school when class resumes at its normal time Tuesday. An additional sweep of the school will take place prior to the start of school.

“Mars Area School District strives to remain proactive in the protection of its students, faculty and staff members,” Pettigrew said. “Thank you for your patience and cooperation as the District works to resolve this matter.”

Check back with Patch for updates to the story.

Was your child affected by the bomb threat? Are you glad the district is taking extra security precautions for Tuesday? Tell us in the comment section below.  

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