NEW JERSEY — Bomb threats were leveled against at least seven New Jersey high schools Wednesday in yet another instance of hoaxes that have disrupted operations at schools in that state.
Multiple departments reported that the threat came in as computerized robocalls, which has happened before and are proven difficult to trace.
Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls, Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, Lodi High School, Fair Lawn High School, Fort Lee High School, Paramus High School and several Leonia schools received bomb threats Wednesday morning, according to police in those towns.
Children were evacuated, while some schools dismissed or told parents not to drop their kids off at all.
In Fair Lawn, the borough’s high school received a recorded bomb threat at 7:55 a.m. “specific to a bomb in a vehicle in the parking lot,” a police spokesman said.
Fair Lawn police and Bergen County sheriff’s deputies responded and swept the few vehicles that were in the lot then gave the all-clear, the spokesman said.
"The principal had us go outside," said Joel Valentin, a second grade student in Elmwood Park.
Elmwood Park Police had to call in off duty police officers and support from neighboring towns to search all six schools. The chief estimates $1500 was spent on overtime Wednesday morning. But multiply costs like that over the span of all 11 towns impacted by this latest bomb hoax, and the cost starts to add up.
"It's not a joke," said a parent.
Paramus Police said the bomb threat at Paramus High School also was delivered via robotic call.
A similar message was received at Lodi High School, with the threat saying there was a bomb in the parking lot, a police spokesman in Lodi said. Students there were evacuated, the school was searched, the area was deemed safe at about 9:50 a.m. and classes resumed, the spokesman said.
Fort Lee Police and Fire Department responded to Fort Lee High School and told parents to not go to the campus while the investigation was underway. At 10:13 a.m., the high school was cleared and resumed normal operations, police there said.
All the schools involved were in session except for Fair Lawn High School and Dwight Morrow High School which were on spring break, according to their online academic calendars. However, staff at Fair Lawn High School were on campus at the time of the threat.
Threats at all 11 schools have been deemed hoaxes.
A similar situation unfolded last month in Bergen County, where nine schools were threatened. Some students were ordered to shelter in place while others were evacuated but ultimately all scenes were cleared and the bomb threats were determined to be hoaxes.
Those schools in Bergen County were targeted in January and February, as well.