WESTFIELD, NJ — UPDATE: A second bomb threat was made Thursday to Hillcrest Academy South at 1:10 p.m., according to a message sent to parents, and all students from Westlake School, Lamberts Mill Academy and Hillcrest Academy South were evacuated for the fourth time in two weeks. The complex was cleared by police and students were returned in time to prepare for dismissal.
ORIGINAL STORY: Westlake School, Lamberts Mill Academy and Hillcrest Academy South were evacuated Thursday morning after the Union County Educational Services complex at 1571 Lamberts Mill Road received its third bomb threat in two weeks. As they were Wednesday, buses heading to the complex were re-routed to St. Helen’s Church until police determined that it was safe for students to return.
The source of Thursday’s threat was a phone call, according to Michael Kowalski, director of people and personnel services. The day before, according to police, a nurse found a flip-book style cartoon of a bomb.
Students and staff at the complex were also evacuated due to a bomb threat last Tuesday, Kowalski said. Each time, the Westfield Police were called and dogs from the Union County K-9 Unit sniffed for explosives, finding nothing.
Although UCES is taking the threats seriously, “There really is no evidence to suggest the threats are valid,” Kowalski said.
Kowalski praised the staff for following the plan created with UCES’ emergency management consultant to keep the students safe during the evacuations.
“It’s been uneventful, although certainly an inconvenience and a disruption,” he said.
He also praised local law enforcement and said that he’s sure that they’ll get to the bottom of it.
“We are working very close with both the Westfield Police Department and the Union County’s Sheriff’s Office to find out the source of the threats,” Kowalski said. “It’s a very serious infraction.”
He encouraged anyone who has information to call Superintendent Terry Foppert at 908-789-8643.
Westlake School specializes in serving classified students from ages 7 to 21 who have multiple disabilities including cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, communication impairments, other heath impairments and traumatic brain injuries.
Lamberts Mill Academy is an educational program designed for students who require a comprehensive psycho-therapeutic approach in an educational setting. The program offers intensive clinical and psychiatric services as well as a wide range of educational programs aligned with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards (NJCCCS).
Hillcrest Academy is a school that is designed to assist students in becoming academically successful in a non-traditional high school.