Cumberland Times-News

November 18, 2012

‘Not cute’

School board seeks assistance in dealing with bomb threats

Cumberland Times-News

— Allegany County Board of Education officials made a strong pitch last week to get some help in dealing with school bomb threats.

Such threats are no trifling matter. As school board member Mike Llewellyn said during the board’s meeting with the Allegany County delegation to Annapolis, when bomb scare perpetrators are  “threatening to blow up about 700 other children, in addition to 100 or so other adults. That’s not cute anymore.”

The board is seeking state legislation that would have offenders ages 13 and older be charged as adults. But Delegate Kevin Kelly said such legislation might be a hard sell in Annapolis. As an alternative, he suggested that the delegation and school officials meet with the state’s attorney’s office to further discuss options.

His proposal for a meeting about the problem should be followed up. There may be a number of suggestions the group might come up with to attack the bomb threat problem.

One possibility is to make students and their parents financially liable for the costs incurred when a bomb threat clears a school building. Police response, loss of class time and other disruptions cost money. If offenders have to bear the financial cost, it might be yet one more deterrent. If they can’t afford to pay, then a sentence of community service could be levied.

Bomb threats were reported around a dozen times last year at Allegany schools, and though offenders are often caught, prosecution in the juvenile justice system isn’t always successful, school officials said. That, too, should be one of the big issues discussed in the joint meeting.

“We’re looking for a solution,” Llewellyn said. “Part of me proposing something this controversial is to kick-start the conversation. I’d like to have a public conversation about this.”

The conversation was started at last week’s meeting. Now that the ball is rolling, the momentum should continue.