Bomb threat evacuates Iowa City West High School

Students, staff were evacuated by bus to an off-site location

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IOWA CITY — Classes are expected to resume at Iowa City West High on Wednesday after a bomb threat prompted officials to evacuate the school and cancel classes for the day.

West High principal Gregg Schoultz said Tuesday that a thorough search of the school by two explosive-sniffing dogs turned up nothing.

“They went room by room and searched all of the area,” Schoultz said. “The dogs went by everything. They went by lockers, they went into rooms, they sniffed drawers.”

The incident started around 8:40 a.m. when a 911 call reported an explosive device at the school, according to Iowa City police Sgt. Scott Gaarde. Police then called the school and responded with the bomb squad. Gaarde said the details of the call and threat remain under investigation.

Schoultz also declined to elaborate on the threat, except to say officials determined it was concerning enough to evacuate the building.

“It was a threat,” he said. “It had ‘West High’ in it. We were concerned about that.”

Police first searched and cleared a gym and then allowed students and staff to move in there. After about 15 minutes, they were loaded into buses that had been diverted to school after dropping off elementary schools in the district. The buses took everyone to the nearby University of Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame while arrangements were made to relocate students — approximately 2,000 of them — to the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

After determining it would take several hours to perform a search of the school, students were dismissed to parents or placed on their normal bus routes by 11:20 a.m. Those with vehicles were taken back to the school so they could drive home.

“All 2,000 found ways to get home by 11:30,” Schoultz said.

The freshman girls basketball game against Cedar Rapids Kennedy and freshman boys basketball practice were called off Tuesday afternoon, by West High Athletic Director Scott Kibby. All other events were expected to go on as scheduled.

Reuters reported that bomb threats were called into more than a dozen schools in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware and Iowa on Tuesday. Schoultz said he learned about those other threats after West High had dealt with theirs and he did not know if the West High threats were related to those on the East Coast.

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