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Published: 12/21/2012

Bedford reassures parents after sheriff's deputies seen entering schools

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE — Unsubstantiated reports of a “police SWAT team” entering several Bedford Public School buildings prompted alarmed parents to pull children from classes and flood school offices with anxious calls Thursday.

But Monroe County sheriff’s deputies were at schools to reassure students they were safe, Superintendent Jon White said

School officials believe the reports of possible trouble began after some students noticed the officers and texted parents with the information. The police visit, coupled with the arrest this week of a Monroe teen who is accused of threatening to set fire to his school, only added fuel to the Bedford reports.

“This is a case where social media had taken over,” Mr. White said. “We’ve had no threats. Everything is as normal as can be.”

School officials were not sure how many students were taken out of classes by parents Thursday.

The community alarm prompted Mr. White to send an email to reassure parents that all was well.

Bedford school officials beefed up security this week after the Monroe incident and in the wake of last Friday’s rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

All school entrances are locked and staff and parent volunteers guard all entrances, school officials said. All visitors must show picture identification and sign in at buildings.

Unsubstantiated reports Thursday also induced Monroe Public Schools and several other Michigan schools, including those in Battle Creek and at public schools in Genesee and Lapeer counties, to cancel classes today.

Some of these reports were based on doomsday scenarios linked to the belief by some that ancient Mayan calendars predicted the world would end today.

Monroe schools spokesman Robert Vergiels said the report had been exhaustively investigated, and nothing was found to substantiate it. He said officials canceled classes when they realized attendance would be significantly reduced because of anxiety.

The Michigan Department of Education will decide if the lost instructional day will have to be made up.

Staff writer Carl Ryan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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