Students go home after school threatened

Andrew Robinson and Rosie Mullalley
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A woman suspected of making a threat that forced a St. John’s school to close early Monday has a long history of breaking the law.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers man the main entrance of Bishop Feild School on Bond Street in St. John’s Tuesday morning after reports of a threat to the school. Police vehicles were at the front and back of the school and officers guarded entrances as parents arrived to pick up their children. See video online at www.thetelegram.com. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Nancy Hart, 49, was arrested late Monday morning after she reportedly made a threat to Bishop Feild Elementary.

Hart has been charged with uttering threats and mischief relating to property. She’s scheduled to appear in court this morning.

Hart is a long-term offender under a 10-year supervision order. In 2000, she was sentenced to a 40-month federal jail term for committing a number of offences.

Her criminal record includes several convictions for sexual assault, assault, mischief and triggering a false fire alarm.

Parents and guardians of students at the downtown St. John’s school were asked to come pick up their children after the threat was received.

Const. Steve Curnew of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary spoke with reporters minutes after the arrest was made late Monday morning.

“It’s still a matter under investigation, so that’s not something we’ll release right now,” Curnew answered when asked by reporters about the nature of the threat. “The arrest has just occurred within the last 15 minutes, so information will be available later on.”

Those who came to the school to take students home appeared to be relatively calm as they waited outside in a lineup.

Tony Stack, assistant director of education for the Newfoundland and Labrador School District, said the school operated in secure mode. This means no internal threat is present and classroom instruction can continue, but with restricted movement enforced inside the school. It is not comparable to lockdown mode, which would involve a known internal threat at the school.

Parents who spoke with The Telegram said they were not told anything specific about the threat.

“You had to sign a book to sign the children out and then you weren’t allowed to go past the doorway,” said April Sullivan, who has three children attending Bishop Field Elementary. “The teachers had to go up to the classrooms to get the students and release them to you.”

She received a phone call from the school about the incident.

“I’m nervous about it, but they said not to panic or anything,” said Sullivan. Her children were calm while waiting for their mom to arrive. One continued doing schoolwork and another watched a movie in her class. One of Sullivan’s sons said he played with his iPad.

Tina Somerton also received a phone call from the school.

“The kids were fine. It was just a precaution. The secretary was really calm.”

A community breakfast involving parents, volunteers and staff was taking place when police advised administration of the threat, according to Stack. Approximately 240 students attend the school.

“I’d like to commend the staff and Laurie Andrews the principal here ... and of course the RNC, who we co-operate very well with,” said Stack. “I’m glad that the RNC are reporting they have a suspect in custody.”

 

 

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