EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Parents frustrated after Mt. Nebo Middle School evacuated after third threat in two weeks

Apr 30, 2024, 11:23 PM | Updated: May 1, 2024, 7:24 am

PAYSON — Parents expressed irritation over a bomb threat toward Mt. Nebo Middle School, which led to a campus-wide evacuation Tuesday. According to the Nebo School District, this is the third threat against the school in two weeks, and the Utah Department of Public Safety and Payson police are investigating where the threats are coming from.

As middle school-aged students played an evening soccer game in Payson Tuesday, parents like Kimberley Clark watched, cheering on her kids.

Clark said her two sons play on the team, including one who attends Mt. Nebo Middle School. Earlier in the day, she said her husband called her after getting an email and text from the school.

“He called and said, ‘Bentley’s school is getting another bomb threat. I have to get back to work, I just want to let you know,'” she explained. “And I was like … OK. Here we go again.”

Other parents at the soccer game also received news of the evacuation due to the threat, with the same frustrated reaction.

Clark said the kids walked to a nearby elementary school. At the same time, the Payson Police Department said officers canvassed the campus with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Police said in a press release the threat came in from an “unknown individual, via email.” While Clark doubted the legitimacy, she was still concerned about her son.

“If it is a real threat, I want to be on top of it. I want to be prepared,” she said.

The Nebo School District confirmed this is the third threat toward the middle school in two weeks. The threats come on the heels of a protest and controversy over allegations of the existence of so-called “furries.” The district has said there is no evidence of that.

It’s unclear if the bomb threats are related. Police said officers Tuesday didn’t find any explosive devices or material.

The Department of Public Safety confirmed it is assisting Payson police in the investigation.

Jeremy Barnes, Department of Public Safety school safety liaison, couldn’t comment on this specific situation but said in general, when a school receives a threat, a new state law mandates that both local law enforcement and the recently appointed DPS state security chief be notified.

He said it can lead to allocating time and resources to addressing the threat.

“They’re going to treat it as if it’s a real situation happening,” Barnes said.

If the situation is something like a bomb hoax, he said that means “potential evacuations of a school, complete chaos regarding the school daytime, instructional time being taken away from the students, things like that.”

DPS analysts will try to track who sent the threat, whether over the phone or email. But, he said, it can be hard to do so.

“There is a lot of work that goes into trying to figure out who they are, trying to identify if it’s a hoax threat or if it’s a substantial threat,” Barnes said.

If prosecuted, the hoax instigator can face prison time and a hefty fine.

“There’s still serious consequences,” Barnes said. “And you have to treat those threats as if they are legitimate.”

Barnes urged anyone who hears of a threat to report it through the SafeUT app.

Clark hopes there won’t be a need for that with three weeks left in the school year. She just wants her son to be able to go to school without worrying about threat interruptions.

“It’s just frustrating. I just don’t understand, I don’t get it,” she said. “I really just can’t wrap my head around the world that we live in right now.”

Payson police and the Nebo School District have a press conference planned for Wednesday on the threats. KSL TV plans to attend and share updates.

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Parents frustrated after Mt. Nebo Middle School evacuated after third threat in two weeks