Regardless of whether the imminent winter storm forces Bethlehem Area schools to close or delay opening, Broughal Middle School will not host its normal a.m. pre-class activities as a precaution against threats made against the school by an employee who has since been incarcerated.
Band and television production are among the activities will not take place, said Edward Docolovich, the school’s principal during a special meeting for parents on Monday night.
However, barring any impact of the storm, which is expected to dump from three to six inches of snow on the region, school will go on as planned, district officials told parents who came to a special meeting at Broughal’s auditorium tonight.
The meeting was prompted by news that James W. Kelley, a technical assistant at Broughal, had made threatening remarks about the school and the Lehigh Valley International Airport traffic control system on his Facebook page late last week. Kelley was arrested Saturday and remains in Northampton County Prison in lieu of $75,000 bail.
The district took the further precaution of taking away Kelley’s key to the building and other accesses, including the district’s computer system.
About 100 people turned up at the auditorium to hear district officials speak about the situation and to ask questions.
The police combed through Broughal on Monday, a school holiday, to ensure that no threatening devices had been left in the building. District officials said they spent the day today formulating a plan to reopen school on Tuesday morning.
Students who normally congregate around the school’s front entrance at about 7:40 each morning will be escorted by school personnel into the building to wait in the gymnasium for class to start, Docolovich said.
School security will be bolstered by the “precautionary presence” of the Bethlehem Police Department, the principal added.
District Superintendent Joseph J. Roy said there was no reason to believe that Kelley had any accomplices. Nonetheless, extra security measures have been added as a precaution and to reassure parents.
Teachers have been asked to arrive at 7:30 a.m. for an emergency faculty meeting to discuss the past few days’ events and to go over what to say to students who may be concerned for their safety, Docolovich said.
Docolovich said he also planned to speak to the students himself through the school’s public address system.
District officials repeatedly tried to reassure parents that they and the city police were doing everything they could to ensure the safety of their children.
Assistant Superintendent Jack Silva said he shares their concerns because his daughter attends Broughal.
“If I didn’t think it is safe, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you telling you that,” he said.