Phone threats prompt lockdowns, evacuation at South Western schools

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Two South Western School District schools were locked down and one was evacuated after someone made a pair of phone threats Monday afternoon.

Investigators believe the threats that prompted the lockdowns at Park Hills Elementary and South Western High School weren’t credible, but students and staff should remain vigilant and report suspicious activity, Penn Township Police said. 

A Penn Township police car.

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The first threat was called in just before 2 p.m. to Park Hill in the 100 block of West Granger Street, police said. 

Police and school administrators made the decision to evacuate the school and transport students and staff to another location. 

South Western School District Administration Office in Penn Township, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

After the school was evacuated, officers and K-9s searched the school, inside and out, but found nothing suspicious, according to police. 

The same person is believed to be the caller who phoned in a threat to South Western High School around 3 p.m., police said. School administrators put the high school on lockdown, and police from various agencies responded to the campus to investigate the threat and assist with reuniting students with parents. 

Penn Township Police Lt. Corey Merwede said elementary students were released first to their parents and high school students were all released after the elementary school students were gone.

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Merwede said all students went through the reunification process, meaning parents had to identify themselves before their child was released to them. He said police were on hand for security purposes during the reunification process.

The York County Sheriff’s Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Hanover Borough Police and West Manheim Township Police assisted Penn Township during the lockdowns. 

Anyone with information about the threats should contact Penn Township Police at 717-637-8751.