By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — Classes at Regina Catholic Education Center resumed as usual Aug. 21 after the school was evacuated following a bomb threat the previous morning.
University of Iowa Police bomb-sniffing dogs found nothing suspicious after a three-hour sweep of the entire building, said Lee Iben, president of Regina.
He said the junior/senior high school received two threatening phone calls 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.
About 900 students, teachers and staffers then walked to Regina’s safe zone, First Presbyterian Church, about a half-mile from the school. “They didn’t know at that point what happened; they were just told we had to get there,” Iben said.
Regina sent an email to parents shortly after 10 a.m. saying school was cancelled and emergency planning was in place. Parents began picking up their children from the church at about 10:15 a.m.
“It went flawlessly,” Iben said. Parents were concerned, but voiced gratitude. “They felt good that their students were taken care of.”
After Regina called 911, two dogs went throughout the elementary and junior/senior high buildings and parking lot. “These dogs can smell a single bullet out of a drawer,” he said. They finished at 1:30 p.m., at which point he called faculty and staff back to the school.
As of early this week, investigators were interviewing staff and students, according to Iowa City Police Sgt. Denise Brotherton. School bomb threats usually come from current or former students, she said. “If it’s someone associated with the school, the likelihood of tracking them down is pretty good.”
If identified, the caller will face criminal charges.
Brotherton praised Regina for making safety a priority. She acknowledged bomb threats sometimes come from attention-seekers hoping to get out of class, “but you never know when it’s going to be the one call that’s not. The school did exactly the right thing.”
By Celine Klosterman