Day 3: Orange High School remains closed amid threats - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Back to Class: Orange students return Thursday after bomb threats shut down school

(WOIO) -

Classes resumed today at Orange High School even though threats of bombs at the school continue.

The District has closed the school all week because of chilling email threats, but decided to reopen Thursday morning, but only 60% of the students returned for classes.

School officials are encouraging students to return Friday, they feel it is safe.

Someone has been sending threatening notes claiming small bombs were hidden and undetectable. Police conducted a thorough search, but didn't find anything. 

The FBI tells 19 Action News anchor Paul Joncich that whoever is sending these email threats is making them difficult to trace, which means they are not dealing with the typical punk who makes threats.

One of the notes read: "You are very lucky that I am considerate enough to give you an easy option to win this game. Respectfully submitted to you with no mercy.

The threats were specifically targeted ethnic groups and demanded the firing of a teacher, potentially making this a federal crime and causing the FBI to join in on the investigation.

School leaders were planning to reopen Wednesday, but late Tuesday night, decided to shut down again as a precaution.

This letter was sent home to parents from the superintendent Dr. Nancy Wingenbach, Ph.D. Wednesday afternoon:

To all Orange students, parents and staff, 

The following information is offered to address safety concerns in the buildings across the district.

On Sunday night, a bomb threat involving Orange High School was received. Since then, the school has been closed while school officials, including the principal, assistant principals, superintendent, and school resource officer have been working with Pepper Pike Police and the FBI to assess the threat. That work has included several thorough searches of the building. With the protection of our students and staff as our greatest concern we have concluded that the high school can safely open on Thursday.

Though we realize the communication of the threats has caused high anxiety and fear, we also know that all the steps we have taken will allow us to safely resume school. The perpetrator has played on emotion and fear to manipulate us. In consultation with law enforcement officials, we believe that we have followed the appropriate and necessary procedures to ensure the high school and other campus facilities are safe. Based on the patterns this week, we may receive further threats and we will carefully review them. However, we do not anticipate the need to further close the building or delay instruction.

On Thursday, we plan to resume classes at Orange High School under our normal schedule. We had originally planned to open on Wednesday but felt that we needed an extra day to brief our staff on the investigation and to share procedures for when classes resume. As a safety precaution, no book bags, back packs or large bags of any kind will be allowed in the high school or on the bus; small purses and bags may be subject to search. Whether students arrive by bus or car, they will be directed by school staff to enter the building at a designated entrance. Students will not be permitted to go back to their cars once they enter the building.
We hope that as students and parents you will want to help make the situation better by:

  • If students have questions, concerns or fears, please share them with parents or another trusted adult.
  •  Don't contribute to rumors on Facebook and other Internet sources that may heighten others' anxiety or fears.
  •  Report to an adult any information that may help ensure student and staff safety.
  • If you have any questions or information to share, you may also call 216-831-8600 ext. 2415 and leave a message.

Please know that the individual(s) involved in this situation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We want to extend our sincere thanks to the Pepper Pike Police and the FBI for working around the clock while conducting this very thorough investigation. We have been reassured and comforted by their diligent and professional approach to ensure no stone is unturned in their efforts to keep us safe and ensure this offender is apprehended quickly.

Thank you.

Dr. Nancy Wingenbach, Ph.D.
Orange Schools

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