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Perpetrators of false bomb threats ‘will be held accountable,’ CMS superintendent vows

CORNELIUS Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison says he’s had enough of the bomb threats and other incidents that have put Hough High School on four lockdowns in the past week.

Three students at the school have been charged.

“It’s sad, it’s selfish, and it’s wrong,” Morrison told 450 concerned parents and students who gathered at the school Wednesday night.

“I want the message to go out: You do something that’s irresponsible, you will be held responsible for your actions.”

On Monday, Bronco Villafranca, 18, and a juvenile were arrested after authorities found a suspicious package at the school.

The second student’s name was not released because of his age.

Earlier, 16-year-old Riley Bowlin was charged with making a false bomb threat linked to two phony reports from April 23.

Morrison urged parents to talk with their children about the consequences of bad decisions. To students, he said, “I’m asking you to look at peer pressure and use it well.”

The crowd applauded when Hough Principal Terri Cockerham said her staff “had done an exceptional job during a very difficult time, and I want to thank them for their hard work.”

Cockerham apologized to the crowd for the school’s failure to send out an “all clear” message on Monday, but she said the school sent out numerous other alerts regarding the lockdowns.

After a parent in the crowd complained about getting false information when she called the school office about one of the lockdowns, Cockerham said additional training of front-office staff is planned.

Hough junior Erin Marshall, 17, expressed concerns about safety in light of the incidents. “Help me and my peers feel safe in this school,” she told school and CMS officials at the meeting.

“There is no 100 percent guarantee in this world,” Cockerham replied. “But I guarantee we will do everything we can to protect our students.”

Marshall later told the Observer that school officials’ promises didn’t comfort her. “I’m living in fear in these classrooms every day,” she said.

April Bethea contributed.

Marusak: 704-987-3670; on Twitter: @ jmarusak.
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