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What you need to know for 10/20/2017

Schenectady school cleared after evacuation over note found

Schenectady school cleared after evacuation over note found

Central Park students were brought to Ellis parking lot
Schenectady school cleared after evacuation over note found
Schenectady police officers in front of Central Park Middle School on Monday.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

SCHENECTADY — Central Park Middle School was evacuated Monday afternoon after a student found a note about a possible bomb, police said.

The note indicated there might be a bomb in the building, police said. The school at 421 Elm St. was evacuated, and police were called.

"Students and staff are safe and have been relocated to a nearby location," the school district said in a prepared statement posted on its Facebook page. "Police are currently at Central Park to investigate."

The school was later cleared, officials said. Detectives from the police department's Youth Aid Bureau were investigating. 

Students were dismissed at their regular time, but from the Ellis McClellan Campus parking lot, according to the district. Buses picked up students there. Parents picking students up were also asked to pick them up at the Ellis parking lot.

Central Park sixth-grader Bella Baldwin reported being in class when a "shelter in place" order came. About five minutes later, someone came knocking on the door with instructions to evacuate.

Teachers and school officials then walked everyone down Bradley Street to the Ellis McClellan Campus parking lot, where they waited until the buses came at dismissal time.

The incident prompted the district to use its phone notification system to inform parents, the district said. Some parents, however, wrote on social media that they didn't receive direct notification, including Bella's mother, Yvonne Baldwin.

Yvonne Baldwin said her first indication of what was happening came via a Twitter alert she had set up for the district's account. That tweet, an abbreviated version of a Facebook post, went out at 3:17 p.m.

"My heart was racing," Baldwin said. "I didn't know that anything was going on until that Twitter notification."

Baldwin said she's gotten phone notifications before but didn't get one Monday. 

Others commenting on the district's Facebook page also reported not getting calls, though many reported receiving them.

District spokeswoman Karen Corona said later Monday that the district sent out three automated phone calls to notify and update parents. Parents whose numbers are incorrect in the school's records wouldn't have gotten calls. 

"In our letter to parents, we will remind them to make sure that their primary contact information is up to date," Corona wrote in an email. "We will follow up and try to identify where incorrect numbers are in the system."

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