Photo Of School Bomb Threat Released; Principal Apologizes

Fayetteville school officials on Tuesday released the photograph of the bomb threat a principal waited two to three hours to report last month.

The threat, which was written on a boys’ bathroom wall at Washington Elementary School, stated, “Im going to blow this plase up (sic).”

The threat was discovered May 9. It was photographed with a cell phone, then washed off of the wall at the direction of Principal Ashley McLarty, said Fayetteville School District spokesman Alan Wilbourn.

McLarty told a group of parents and school staff members Monday night she would show the photograph to anyone who asked to see it. The photograph was shown to several parents, but the media was denied access because district officials said it was part of an ongoing investigation.

5NEWS submitted a public records request Monday night seeking the photograph and received a copy Tuesday.

Wilbourn said McLarty and an assistant principal conducted an internal investigation and decided two to three hours later to report the incident to school district administrators. Those administrators then contacted police.

The principal faced parents Monday night at a Parent-Teacher Organization and apologized for waiting a few hours before reporting the bomb threat. McLarty said she and other staff members at the school will be attending a June 16 crisis session hosted by the school district.

“I have a daughter that attends school here, and so I want all kids here to feel safe,” she said. “Do I feel bad? I feel reflective and I would do things differently knowing all of the things that need to take place.”

School officials decided to address the issue Monday night in a PTO meeting to hear concerns from parents about the incident.

Melissa Werner has a son in first grade at Washington Elementary School.

“I want my son to know it was serious and that it’s not okay to do these kind of things,” Werner said. “He is very literal and wants to know exactly what’s going to happen. I want him to know about the seriousness of these things.”

Werner said she is happy McLarty and other staff members at the school will be attending the crisis session this month.

“In general, the protocols are always changing, so I’m glad she is attending this training and that all of the other faculty staff or relevant personnel are going to be attending,” she said.

Moving forward, McLarty said the school will now view every piece of graffiti that includes language concerning the safety of students and staff as a threat, whereas before, it was viewed as a disciplinary issue.

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