BY AMY GAREIS

News-Herald Staff Writer

CADIZ – For the third time in nearly three years, Harrison Central High School was evacuated amid a bomb threat.

Students received an early dismissal today at 1:45 p.m. so officials from the Harrison Hills City School District, sheriff’s office and Cadiz Police Department could review the scene. Superintendent George Ash confirmed a bomb threat was received and students were evacuated to a nearby safety zone but later released to go home.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in and about four canines swept the premises in search of an actual explosive. At this hour, leaders are still wondering if it was another hoax. If so, it would be the third since 2008.

Ash said the threat came at a time when students were taking Ohio Graduation Tests and making up lost school days from the recent snowstorms. The OGT tests were given in the morning, while pupils have been in class for an extra 30 days to compensate for missed class time. The superintendent said justice would be sought once those responsible are caught.

“We will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” Ash said.

Some confusion occurred when parents of Harrison Central Middle School students were left waiting for children who were usually dropped off outside the high school. The parents were left wondering where the children were when buses didn’t appear on schedule. Some eventually came and other parents learned the students were taken to the Harrison Career Center along Ohio 9.

Ash explained that an alternative plan was put into place after the transportation department learned buses would not be permitted at the high school.

“We were told they weren’t permitted to unload in front of the school,” he said. “They took an alternative route and were switched to Harrison Career Center. [Transportation Director Ed Kovacik] made sure everyone was where they needed to be. The main thing is we were keeping the kids safe and away from an area where they could be in danger. They switched buses and some parents came to pick up their kids. We hope to have better communication next time.”

The bomb threat remains under investigation and is also the second incident to occur within weeks inside the district. A brief lockdown was issued after a student reportedly brought a knife to show off at HCMS. The student was suspended for 10 days but officials said no threats were made.