Taegu American school sports, clubs put on hold following bomb threat
Stars and Stripes March 11, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Taegu American School called off all sports and other extracurricular activities until the person behind Thursday’s false bomb threat is identified, according to principal Helen Bailey.
Officials evacuated the school about 8:15 a.m. Monday. The school — kindergarten through 12th grade — is on the Army’s Camp George in Daegu.
The cancellation was expected to affect the school’s robust athletics program, most immediately soccer. Taegu American School’s soccer season openers were called off. The boys and girls teams were to host Seoul Foreign on Friday and Seoul American on Saturday in Taegu’s Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference openers.
The Army’s Criminal Investigaton Command — commonly called CID — said a written bomb threat was found in the girls bathroom on the first floor, which houses the elementary school, an Army spokesman said.
Because of the possibility an elementary youngster was involved, CID officials deemed a criminal investigation inappropriate, said spokesman Kevin Jackson, Area IV Support Activity, Daegu. CID will leave any investigation to school officials, he said.
“We’ve already informed our students that if they have any information leading to the identification of the person” who threatened the school, they should alert an administrator, Bailey said Thursday evening.
Military police combed the school building and grounds with working dogs trained to detect explosives. They declared the school safe several hours later, Jackson said.
Students were bused from Camp George to two nearby U.S. Army installations, where they were supervised and fed, he said.
Kindergartners through sixth-graders were bused to Camp Walker’s Kelly Fitness Center; seventh- through 12th-graders went to Camp Henry’s post theater.
Jackson said students returned to the school about 12:30 p.m.
At the beginning of the current school year, about 650 students were enrolled in Taegu American, Bailey wrote in a message in the school’s Web site, www.taegu_un.pac.dodea.edu.
Bailey said, “We take this very seriously. It’s not cost-effective for the military police and the working dogs and the rescue unit to take time out of their schedules to investigate a false bomb threat.”
The shutdown of all extracurricular activities extended to practices for all sports as well as games, girls and boys soccer coaches Ed Thompson and Larry Knierem told Stars and Stripes on Thursday.
“They’d phoned the schools and told us that we’d not be playing,” Knierem said. “The kids have been working hard. It’s a shame to see them punished for something they didn’t do. But if that’s the administration’s call, then we’ll support them.”
No make-up dates were announced Thursday for the postponed matches. Taegu American athletics director Michelle Chandler and Seoul American athletics director Donald Hedgpath said rescheduling would be difficult.
In a phone interview Thursday evening, Chandler said, “There’s nowhere in the schedule for these games to be played.”
Said Hedgpath by cell phone from Seoul, “There isn’t much room in the schedule to make it up and that’s pretty far to travel for one match. It’s going to be really tight to get it in. It’s unfortunate that this would happen.”