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Bomb threats rise in schools

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Incessant school bomb threats have terrorized Debbie Hadden's autistic daughter so much that she removed her from school.

Ms. Hadden recalled hugging her daughter, consoling her as she cried as a way to ease her mind. Lessia, 15, has suffered panic attacks after dozens of bomb threats at Morgan Road Middle School.

So, Ms. Hadden quit her job, began working from home and removed her daughter from school.

"It doesn't matter how much you're paid when you're sitting there worried about the safety of your daughter," she said of leaving Savannah River Site after nearly 10 years. "When I went to the school Friday to withdraw her, I had to wait because they were having their 33rd bomb threat."

Interim Superintendent James Thompson said there have been 109 bomb threats in Richmond County schools this year, but he is in talks with Sheriff Ronnie Strength on ways to deal with the problem.

Children are no longer calling schools directly, Mr. Thompson said. Instead, they are using out-of-service cell phones to call 911 and avoid being traced.

School officials are looking into buying voice-analyzing equipment and even playing the recorded voices in the media to catch the culprits, he said. The sheriff will be prosecuting them, and the school board will be disciplining them.

Board policy states that pupils will be expelled for a year and sent to the alternative school for another year, Mr. Thompson said. So far, 22 pupils have been caught this year.

In addition, Morgan Road Middle held a meeting Wednesday night to inform parents about the bomb threats, and the school board held its first meeting of a committee specifically charged with addressing discipline.

The formation of the committee comes in the wake of a spike in weapons found on campus last year, an alleged rape that occurred on campus and the surge in bomb threats.

During its first meeting, board Vice President Joe Scott called for the creation of a team of strong disciplinarians to develop an action plan to share with the school system to cut down on discipline problems. The team will report back to the committee in May.

According to The Augusta Chronicle's analysis of school board records, discipline problems were up overall last semester when compared with the previous fall semester.

Some offenses, however, were down.

Richmond County had a decline in pupils found guilty of breaking rules for drugs, weapons, sex offenses and chronic disciplinary problems, according to The Chronicle's analysis.

Ms. Hadden welcomed the school board's steps toward addressing the discipline problems, and she offered some advice of her own.

Lock up the parents, she said. That will drive the message home and encourage parents to teach their children respect.

As it is, children are out "partying" and "playing like it's field day" for an hour or so each time there's a bomb threat, Ms. Hadden said. Other times, the school isn't evacuated at all, which also concerns her.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.


BY THE NUMBERS

The number of pupils found guilty at school disciplinary tribunals was up last semester, from 355 in fall 2005 to 383. Here is a breakdown of some of the more serious infractions:

INFRACTION FALL 2005 FALL 2006
Drugs 48 31
Weapons 49 34
Major teacher assaults 8 8
Sex offenses 24 21
Chronic discipline problem 17 7

Source: The Augusta Chronicle analysis of Richmond County Board of Education records

Comments (10) Add comment
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Sir William
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Sir William 03/29/07 - 06:40 am
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A uniformed dress code is a

A uniformed dress code is a good first step in establishing discipline.

getalife
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getalife 03/29/07 - 07:26 am
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Put the students that are

Put the students that are caught in some kind of juvenile detention. These kids will be trouble makers the rest of their lives.

moneyman1035
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moneyman1035 03/29/07 - 08:41 am
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No I am sorry a uniform is

No I am sorry a uniform is not the solution, the solution is for the parents to start whipping their children, teaching them right from wrong and then bring back the paddeling in schools.
I am 39 yrs old and when I was in elementary school we had spankings when we were bad and after a few licks with a hard paddel I promise these children would change their minds and attitudes. Detention is not the answer either. We as adults need to show the kids who is the boss and stop letting them listen to so many people saying " oh if your parents spanks you, you can call child abuse" I am who I am today, because I was raised to be good and when I wasn't, I was spanked.

feedup
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feedup 03/29/07 - 09:04 am
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I truly agree. I was paddle

I truly agree. I was paddle in school. I would rather be paddle them the school calling my mother. Parents need to be parents and rise your children. Teach them to be obedient and respect authority. Kids now days don't fear the police or jail. Because as youth they know they will spend 90 days at detention center. I say instead of 90 days start giving them 2 years minmum for first offence and make the parents bear some of the cost for that time. This will let them know you are not playing and parents will start spanking that rear end.

MJDW
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MJDW 03/29/07 - 09:07 am
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Put the chronic discipline

Put the chronic discipline problems kids out of the FREE public school system for good, maybe when the parents have to come up with the funds to provide for their problem kids to get an education they will teach them better.

dknewsome
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dknewsome 03/29/07 - 11:42 am
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MJDW I like your way best,

MJDW I like your way best, hitting a child isnt needed.
There are other ways to get around this without hands on.,
Start taking there things away, cellphones, internet, phone use,
going out with freinds,taking them place,, start off with a week, than make it longer. If not have a cop come out and talk to the child and tell them if they dont behave they are going to court. I am a teenager myself and hitting now days doesnt work, it gets taken to far out of hand. It makes the child more angry, and might start fighting against you. Then what happens when they really DO charge your kid with something, and they get put away.
DFCS does not play around anymore, and you as parents have a risk of getting in trouble, and possibly loosing rights. So weigh your risks, constructive ways or ways of pain and baddddd results? And trust me if a child goes to the school and says they got hit, DFCS WILL be invlolved, because legally the teachers have to, or they risk their jobs.
thanks.

moneyman1035
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moneyman1035 03/29/07 - 12:15 pm
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Well, I know most of us who

Well, I know most of us who were spanked as a child have done alright, if you as a parent can control your child then you can take away items, but if your child is robbing resturants, and calling bomb threats in and drinking and doing drugs YOU are not controling your child. So thats when the spanking and a switch to the legs of that child works. DFS is needed but that is part of the problem also, children getting too cocky and telling parents what they can and can't do to them, cause they will call DFAS and accused them of child abuse, and we all know most children have bruises on them most of the time, so that just plays against the parent.... I think spankings work best to create a mindful and respectful child and member of society.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/29/07 - 12:52 pm
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Spanking children and taking

Spanking children and taking things away from children who are robbing and calling in bomb threats is not going to do much good at this point. Loving discipline should have started a long time ago when disruptive behavior started. I don't know what the solution is when you have a rebellious 12 or 13 year old on your hands. Thankfully my two sons are well behave - not to say they are perfect - but maybe their respectable behavior has something to do with they got their bottoms popped or things they enjoyed taken away when they were small. On the other hand, some parents try to raise their children correctly but the children turn out rebellious anyway.

LetJusticeRoll
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LetJusticeRoll 03/29/07 - 05:02 pm
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In a school system that is

In a school system that is struggling to maintain a sense of order it has baffled me that the decision was made to remove the structure and stability of the uniform policy. I attended the meeting and the decision to remove the uniform policy was based only on the whims of the administrators. There were no statistics directly linked to the uniform policy showing it as the cause for low performing schools. You will not see an increase in referrals for breaking the dress code because the administrators, (most of them), will just simply not enforce it; the same way they were not enforcing the uniform policy. We (namely our children) are facing some tough times if we continue to give in to weak administrators and apathetic parents wanting to give into the desires of their children.

dknewsome
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dknewsome 03/30/07 - 10:36 am
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Yeah, I see where you guys

Yeah, I see where you guys are coming from, but
if they are calling in bomb threats, drinking, drugs, ect
they dont need hitting, they need legal authority,
just hitting is not going to STOP them from doing what they are
doing, think realll hard. ofcourse for the little things a little whipping is ok, but not for kids 12-13+ your no going to get very far, so if its serious maybe they need to be scared by cops, they dont need there parents paying for them to get out of trouble and making excuses, Im a teenager as I have already said, Im very well behaved, but there family life style has a lot to do with it, yelling cussin putting them down does nothing but make there selfesteem go down and then they make even more stupid mistakes. So if your kids act horrible maybe you as parents need to step back and look at yourselfs and how you act and react b/c your problems are there problems.
once again thanks for reading

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