A bomb threat scrawled in the bathroom of on Wednesday spurned a copycat incident the following day, school officials said.
Both instances "appear to have been a prank," principal Nate Rouse said in a message sent to the OPRF community.
"Although we recognize that we are certainly in the midst of “prank” season, please know that the safety of our students and staff is paramount at OPRF," he said.
School officials won't say much about the specific threats, but said Wednesday's message "did speak to a particular time in which the disturbance was to occur."
On Thursday, school officials took extra security measures, including limiting hall passes and holding students in the school lobby prior to first bell as officials searched for suspicious items and packages.
Sometime during the morning, a similar message was discovered in the girls' bathroom. Here's Rouse's letter to the community:
Dear OPRF Community,
I wanted personally to thank all of you for your support and patience with us as we navigated to the best of our ability how to deal with today’s critical incident. Each time this happens, we are reminded about the resilience of our student body, and the support that we have from parents and our community. We are extremely proud of our students’ behavior, compliance, and willingness to assist us today. Although the police are continuing with their investigation, we are relieved that this appears to be a prank. So that you are aware, the bomb threat message did speak to a particular time in which the disturbance was to occur. We do not provide those specific details because we want to ensure that the police and our Deans are able to determine what information is provided to them from students through the investigation besides what we already know. We also were alerted to a copycat threat on the same floor this morning in a girls’ bathroom. The police were already on the scene and took photos of the threat. This is all of the information that I am able to provide about our investigation at this time.
Shortly before the school day started, there were also rumors that we had moved to a Late Arrival schedule. This was a direct result of informing our Safety and Support Staff to have students remain in the Student Lobby area prior to school starting, so that we could continue to search the upstairs areas for suspicious packages or items. Keeping students in the Student Lobby area is a routine practice for our Late Arrival Mondays, so there was an assumption that we had moved to that schedule. Students were not marked tardy for first period classes.
We made the decision to limit passes from classes throughout the day for students so that we were able to see who was in the hallways and where they were going. Although we did not decide to check student backpacks upon their arrival at school, our Faculty & Staff were asked to report any and all suspicious activities throughout the day. We have asked for additional police presence around the school for the remainder of the school year. Although we recognize that we are certainly in the midst of “prank” season, please know that the safety of our students and staff is paramount at OPRF.
As always, we ask that if you or your students hear or see anything of concern that you immediately share it with the school – an administrator, dean, counselor, teacher or staff member –so we can investigate.
Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 708-434-3205.
Nathaniel L. Rouse