School officials take precautions after terror threat warning

04/06/2011 3:20 PM |

The state Department of Education is calling it “a non-credible threat,” but is still advising school districts to take precautions in the wake of threatened terrorist activity involving school buses, state office buildings and the New York State Legislature.

The threat was received by state officials and some members of the media from an unknown email account, according to state officials.
In a letter emailed Wednesday to district superintendents, associate education commissioner Ken Slentz and assistant commissioner Charles Szuberla Jr. wrote: “Although authorities are treating this threat seriously and continue to investigate, they are not considering this a credible threat at this time.”

The state advises that “suspicious activity or communications” should be reported to the New York State Intelligence Center at 1-866-723-3697.

Local school districts responded by calling and/or sending notices to parents and speaking with bus drivers who work either for individual districts or for Sunrise Coach, which serves some North Fork schools.

Amala Cain, the Riverhead district’s supervisor of transportation, made sure all bus drivers were aware of the alert and “enhanced the existing pre- and post-inspection routines for all bus transit,” according to a letter sent to families Wednesday.

“We encourage all those involved in school transportation to remain aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity,” the letter said. The letter also advised drivers and attendants to be “watchful for unknown individuals or any suspicious or unusual behavior along their routes or at bus stops.”

The Sunrise Coach Lines in Greenport, which provides school bus service to most Southold Town districts, has made all of its employees aware of the threat and is asking bus drivers to be extra-vigilant in their daily morning inspections of their buses, a company official said.

jlane@timesreview.com