Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Southbridge Mid/Hi School Students Sent Home

Massachusetts State Police bomb squad responds

Ken O'Brien

(Updated 1:35 PM) Students at the Southbridge Middle/High School have been sent home for the day.

A posting on the school website says, "Due to an unanticipated issue at the middle high school, the building has been evacuated. Because the students are not clear to re-enter the building at this time, we have contacted the bus transportation company for students to be sent home within the hour. If your child does not take bus transportation, please arrange for someone to pick your child up at the middle/high school.
All children are safe and accounted for and there is no danger to the student population."

The state fire marshal confirmed the Massachusetts State Police bomb squad responded to the school.

A statement by Police Chief Daniel R. Charette reads, “The building is safe and cleared at this time and all calls should be referred to the Superintendent's Office.” Messages left with acting School Superintendent Sheryl Stanton were not immediately returned.

The Southbridge Middle/High School was evacuated Tuesday morning and a police bomb squad responded to the scene after a suspicious package was found, officials said.

Acting Superintendent Sheryl Stanton said an “unknown suspicious package” was the reason students were sent home for the day.

“At approximately 9:00 a.m. today, a student issue was brought to the attention of Middle/High School Administration regarding an unknown suspicious package,” Stanton said. “The building was evacuated directly following the notification to the police department for safety reasons during the investigation.”

According to police, a 16-year-old student had a device on him, which turned out to be a hoax device. Law enforcement officials also conducted a precautionary search at his home on Chestnut Street, finding nothing suspicious.

The teenager could still face criminal charges.

An official press release was issued by the school administration. It reads as follows:


At approximately 9:00 a.m. today, a student issue was brought to the attention of Middle/High
School Administration regarding an unknown suspicious package. Principal Earls immediately
contacted Southbridge Police Department for assistance with the issue.

The building was evacuated directly following the notification to the police department for 
safety reasons during the investigation. The Southbridge Police Department requested the 
assistance of the Massachusetts’ State Police on site of the incident. Both SPD and MSP 
requested additional time to continue their investigation in the building. Subsequently, 
a decision was made to dismiss students from the building and call AA Transportation 
as well as parents/guardians for release.

At approximately 11:00 a.m., police cleared the building and allowed staff members to re-enter
to gain access to retrieve their belongings.

I would like to take this time to thank the Southbridge Police Department, the Southbridge Fire
Department and the Massachusetts’ State Police for their quick response and assistance during
this unusual emergency event. I cannot express enough my gratitude and appreciation of the
administration, faculty and staff in their proper handling of the situation and the assistance in
keeping student safety of the utmost importance.

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  1. First let me say Mrs. Earl showed tremendous leadership in her handling of this so called unanticipated issue at the SMHS. This issue could have been prevented if Mrs.Culligan director of special education would do her job! There are students attending this school who should be placed in other settings because of major issues.She is constantly a road block.Students who want to learn are going to other districts.She is also a major road block to the administrators who want to suspend these students.As long as this nonsense is allowed we will continue to be the laughing stock of south county. Keep up the good job Mrs. Earls.

    1. To cat nip
      Don't blame Mrs. Culligan. She has been told by the School Committee and the Town Council to keep Special Ed cost down. When you go to a budget meeting the first thing the Town Council asks the School Committee is: "How much are we paying for out of district placements?" Sending a student out of district costs many thousands of dollars more than educating them here plus the special bussing costs to and from their placement. Southbridge has been developing special local programs for these students to save money.

  2. If our High School was run as well as 'Boston Latin' was, Southbridge would still be the laughingstock of the County.

    Why is the next Town Manager Search committee meeting an Executive Session? Why does a Vermont Trash Company pay for the Board of Health's Attorney? Why won't they reveal which Councilors spent a fortune on legal advice? Why did we spend over $10 Million on a steel building that can never be worth over a million, yet allow our Fire Department to remain in a building older than Notre Dame? Why is the Airport Restaurant abandoned? Why was the Tornado insurance money used to bring potable water to the airport?

    The schools are not as good as we would like them to be, but give Ms. Earls a chance to improve matters. The School Department is slowly improving. Can the same be said for the "Town side" of governance?

    The Vice Chair of the Council claimed that the schools were what was holding back our hiring a new Town Manager, that potential Town Managers are reluctant to come here- I suspect that it is because the "town side" of Southbridge is as big a mess as the "school side"

  3. Watchcher, you are probable right but the fact remains fwe can't continue to ignore the needs of students who want to learn and want to be in school.Keepng these disruptive students in our district will prevent us from getting out of level four.THATS a fact. We are currently spending more than 1 million because of school choice and that amount will continue to increase. Keeping these students in house will prevent the students who want to learn to stay in district. A budget increase of 3.5 million thats a joke. So now we need behavior specialists? We don't. Assistant Principals at the elemtary level? Don't need them. Mrs. Stanton says we have five people working at central office, try ten or more. Go count them. Simple solution. An alternative high school. Until that happens nothing will change. For whats it worth one principal at the high school and one principal at the middle school.


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