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GUEST VIEW I Bill approved by Senate to combat hoax threats at local schools

Following a string of local school closings due to hoax threat reports, I voted on April 10 for and the state Senate approved legislation to enhance criminal penalties for those convicted of making false threats against schools and higher education institutions.

The sick people who submit these false threats should face significant repercussions and have to pay - figuratively and literally - for their crime.

Students and teachers should be able to focus their attention on learning without being distracted by threats of violence.

Saucon Valley School District in late March closed schools for two days due to bomb threats.

Multiple threats led to lock downs at three Allentown schools and the closure of Lehigh Career and Technical Institute in late 2022.

A shooting threat at Orefield Middle School in the Parkland School District, shut down buildings around the same time.

Anonymous tip lines have been weaponized against our school districts.

Given the prevalence and frequency of hoax threats our educational institutions are receiving, it’s time to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes face serious consequences for their actions.

In a direct effort to counteract this trend, Senate Bill 975 would enhance the penalty for making a false report of a terrorist threat to a school, college, university or other higher education institution.

The crime now would be classified as a third-degree felony and the person would face imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000.

The bill also would enable courts to compel the criminal to pay for costs associated with the false terrorist threat report.

The criminal could be held responsible for paying for salaries and wages, including overtime pay, for police, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, school district staff and other government employees who responded to the threat.

Courts also could force the criminal to pay for the salaries and wages for teachers, administrators or other school or higher education institution employees who were paid despite the diversion.

I spoke in the Senate in favor of the bill to strengthen penalties for hoax threats against school districts and higher education institutions.

Senate Bill 975 now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.


State Sen. Jarrett Coleman, a Republican, represents the 16th Senatorial District which includes various townships in Bucks County and in Lehigh County Alburtis, Allentown (Wards 13 and 18), Coopersburg, Macungie, and Slatington, and the Townships of Heidelberg, Lower Macungie, Lower Milford, Lowhill, Lynn, North Whitehall, South Whitehall (Districts 3, 6 and 8), Upper Macungie, Upper Milford, Upper Saucon, Washington and Weisenberg.

Visit Coleman’s website at SenatorColeman.com. Follow him at Facebook.com/SenatorJarrettColeman and sign up for email newsletters at SenatorColeman.com/eNewsletters.