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Dixie Hollins bomb threat proves false

A police search turns up nothing at the high school where a note was left on a restroom wall.

Published August 24, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Police and sheriff's deputies combed Dixie Hollins High School Tuesday night after someone threatened in writing to detonate a bomb today.

The threat was scrawled on the wall of a girls' restroom near the front of the school. It said a bomb would go off at "11 o'clock" Aug. 24 but did not specify whether that meant morning or night, said Pinellas schools spokesman Sterling Ivey.

The search turned up nothing suspicious and school officials planned to open today under stepped-up security, Ivey said.

"We feel that we've taken all the precautions that we possibly can," he said. "We want our kids to be in school because that's where they can learn. We don't want there to be a message that if you threaten to disrupt the school day then everybody gets a free ride out of school."

Ivey said a large group of officers from the Pinellas Sheriff's Office, Kenneth City police and Pinellas schools police "meticulously" combed the school after the message was discovered about 3:15 p.m. Because the school day ends at 1:50 p.m., most of Dixie Hollins' 1,900 students were gone.

Investigators also planned to review surveillance equipment at the school, Ivey said. Pinellas school surveillance systems typically monitor common areas, but cameras are not allowed in restrooms or classrooms.

Officials suspect the message was written by someone who wanted the school day to be canceled, Ivey said.

"We haven't seen anything that points to a viable threat," he said. "Hopefully, kids won't use it as an excuse to stay out of school."

Dixie Hollins principal Mike Bohnet notified parents of the incident Tuesday night using a district phone system that can deliver targeted messages to thousands of households.

The district understands that many parents will feel uncomfortable sending their children to school today, Ivey said. Students who do not show up will receive an excused absence providing they bring in a parent's note on Thursday, he said.

[Last modified August 24, 2005, 01:14:20]

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