The costs and consequences of recent school bomb threats (Update: longer school days?)

photo by flickr user vpickering

Update 4/30/12:  School board member, Joe DeFeo, says one way to recoup educational time lost by bomb threats may be made up by extending the school day.  That plan, however, comes at the same cost per hour as the expense associated with each hour lost for each occurence.

Students have expressed concern over the time lost, and given the importance of end-of-year results, it's likely that the teachers and administration are, as well.  You can check out this WMBF story for more details.

First report:  As of yesterday, there have been 15 bomb threats in Horry County Schools during this school year.  Evidently it's this generation's version of pulling the fire alarm to get a break on a nice spring day - except way worse.

According to this Horry Independent article, each bomb threat is eating up approximately $6710 in school resources per hour.  It's difficult to determine how long it takes to clear the school of a threat, so let's calculate on the conservative side.  One hour per occurrence equals $100,650, which does not include the resources used by law enforcement and the obvious risk to public safety.

So what is the penalty for these kids?  It's been my opinion that punishment must not be harsh enough if it continues to happen.  After reading this WBTW story, I stand corrected.  Making a false bomb threat, the best kind, of course, is a Class D felony, which can come with fines and prison.  Minors are dealt with in the juvenile system while students 17 and older will go to J. Reuben Long Detention Center.  Beyond that, the school system has a separate penalty process, which could result in suspension, expulsion, or registration in an alternative school. 

The conversation on Facebook has been all over the place with regard to what types of punishment might dissuade students from scribbling threats on bathroom walls.  Here's a sample:

"the kids are just doing it to get out of class. the school needs to start "threatening" back with making up the lost time at the end of the year into their summer break! the schools also need to hire bathroom attendants apparently to check the stalls after each child comes out."

"Those doing it, once caught should absolutely suffer the consequences under the law... and I also agree with having those same kids make up the time (in volunteerism to ALL the Horry County Schools with school improvements) that is lost with each threat.  Also, anyone who knew anything and chose not to come forward should be with them."

"They should be expelled and not allowed back into ANY school ....  they should be banned from any and all extracurricular activities (sports, dance, the prom, whatever!l), let their so-called "parent" deal with the consequences if they can't be tried as an adult."

So what do you think?  What type of punishment would send a serious enough message to the students involved or considering future involvement?  

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