By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — A freshman and junior at Regina Catholic Education Center each face two charges of first-degree harassment — aiding and abetting, following two bomb threats against the school.
The male students, ages 15 and 17, were arrested Sept. 21, according to Iowa City Police.
Neither the police department nor Regina released the names of the juveniles charged with the aggravated misdemeanor. Regina cannot share the boys’ disciplinary status at the school, President Lee Iben said.
Investigators are looking into the involvement of a possible third person not affiliated with Regina, according to Iowa City Police. The FBI is involved in that investigation because the individual is from out of state, said Lee Morrison, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Davenport.
Bomb threats were called into Regina on Aug. 20 and Sept. 19. School administrators evacuated the building and cancelled classes on both days.
Iben said that since the bomb threats, Regina has begun locking its doors during school hours. In preparation for potential future crises, it also has ordered emergency kits that include water and activities for elementary classrooms.
“The Regina community is getting over the threats and moving forward.” He said the school continues to pray for the families of the students charged.
The first bomb threat came to the junior/senior high school office shortly before 9 a.m. Aug. 20, the third day of the fall semester at Regina. A male caller “said something to the effect that if the school wasn’t evacuated in five minutes, he intended to blow up the school,” Iben said.
After students were evacuated, Iowa City Police officers, with help from the University of Iowa Police Department’s K-9 division and the Johnson County Bomb Squad, found no devices or suspicious packages at Regina.
Nearly a month later, on Sept. 19 at 12:14 p.m., a caller said he would enter the school with an explosive device on his body if Regina did not provide money. Teachers, staffers and more than 900 students were evacuated and walked two-and-a-half miles to St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church.
After hearing that some students from the junior/senior high hadn’t eaten lunch, a parish staffer used church funds to buy bread, bologna and cookies, said Pat King, pastoral associate at St. Wenceslaus. Hy-Vee donated bottled water within 45 minutes after students arrived, she said.
All students were picked up by 3:30 p.m. “They were very well behaved.”
Regina has added a school day before Christmas break to make up for the day of classes cancelled on Aug. 20. But school had been in session long enough Sept. 19 that a second make-up day isn’t required, Iben said.
Morrison praised Regina administrators and staff for ensuring the safety of more than 900 students following the bomb threats. Parents and police cooperated well with the school, he added. “But we certainly hope we don’t have to go through this experience again.”