Students were back in session Tuesday at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School after classes were canceled Monday to allow school officials and police time to continue to investigate a threat made against the school.
The “written threat of violence” was discovered by a student late Friday afternoon, according to school President Father Mike Boehm.
“Once the administration learned of this, we immediately contacted the Washington Police Department, which provided the next steps, as well as a police presence on campus,” Father Mike stated in an email to parents.
Washington police Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes told The Missourian the threat was found in a girls bathroom and indicated that someone “wanted to blow up the school” on Monday.
St. Louis County police officers walked bomb-sniffing dogs through the school Sunday night, Sitzes said, but the search yielded no results.
Father Mike said interior and exterior security cameras have been monitored and reviewed. Additional security cameras had already been ordered, prior to this situation, and are expected to arrive in about two weeks.
As of Tuesday morning, Father Mike said the source of the threat had not yet been identified, but the school is continuing to work with police to ensure the school is secure and students, faculty and staff are safe.
The co-ed Catholic high school followed an e-learning day Monday, meaning students received assignments online.
Parents and students were initially notified Sunday that school would be in session Monday, but late Sunday night additional information was reported regarding an anonymous “concerning text” that was supposedly received by a number of students, including members of the JV football team.
To allow police additional time to investigate the matter, Father Mike said the decision was made to hold an e-learning day instead. All on-campus activities also were canceled Monday, including games, practices and rehearsals.
“No one reported actually receiving this text, and all who were contacted stated that they had only heard that others received it,” Father Mike said. “Neither the police nor the members of our staff have seen the text, so we don’t know exactly what it said or if it even exists.”
On Tuesday, there was an increased police presence both in the school and around the campus and Father Mike said that will continue. Standard school security protocols were followed, including the search of bags and personal belongings.
“Everything ran smoothly and the kids were very cooperative,” he said. “They understand why we’re doing this.”
To help ease any fears, Father Mike made an extended appearance on the school’s morning broadcast, Knightly News Live, along with Officer Casey Hill, to discuss the situation with students. They urged students to report any information they might have relating to the situation.
In all of his emails to parents, Father Mike asked parents to speak to their children about the situation and to contact police with any relevant information.
In his first year as school president, Father Mike said the last few days have been difficult, but he greatly appreciates all of the supportive emails and phone calls.
“I am as saddened and confused as anyone over this whole situation,” he said. “I realize that many of our parents have fears around this, but I want to reassure you that we are doing everything in our power to keep this school safe.
“As difficult as this has been, this will not defeat us as the Borgia Family,” he added. “This will take faith and prayer. This will take a resolve on the part of each of us and all of us to be stronger than these forces that want to weaken and divide us.”
Father Mike said his administration will continue to work to enhance the safety of the school.
“I want to thank my staff, the police, fire and emergency management for all of their work,” he added. “There has been a lot of time and expense spent on this, plus all of the heartache something like this causes.”