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Hilton superintendent on now-common school bomb threats: 'A sad and dark time'

Casey Kosiorek, superintendent of schools in Hilton
Casey Kosiorek, superintendent of schools in Hilton

Attendance was down about 2% in the Hilton Central school district on Monday. Some parents are keeping their children home from school after a series of bomb threats that began last week.

District Superintendent Casey Kosiorek told WXXI News that while he understands why families fear for their children's safety, he is confident that school buildings are safe.

He said the district, together with local law enforcement, assesses each threat that comes in.

"So if it's deemed a hoax and we know what has happened while the buildings have been under our supervision, we feel confident continuing with the school day," Kosiorek said. "If things were to be different, we certainly would handle that appropriately and we're taking all threats seriously."

Kosiorek said all school buildings throughout the district are under surveillance around the clock.

The most recent threat, once again sent in an anonymous email, came on Monday. But unlikelast week, the district did not close or evacuate any schools.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the threats, which have so far not resulted in the discovery of any explosive devices.

This week, a small group of mothers is sending postcards to homes throughout Hilton with the hope of dissuading whoever is making the anonymous bomb threats.

The post cards quote Juno Dawson, the author of an LGBTQ-themed book, "This Book is Gay," which the perpetrator of the threats has objected to being made available to students in the Hilton High School library.

Hear our conversation with Casey Kosiorek
Superintendent Casey Kosiorek discusses the most recent bomb threat targeting the district, how they are responding, and how the incidents are affecting students and staff.
Casey Kosiorek, superintendent of schools in Hilton

The postcards spell out Dawson's support for trans and LGBTQ kids and her opposition to book bans. The mothers hope the person or people behind the threats will be less likely to continue targeting the school district if messages of LGBTQ support are circulating throughout the entire community.

Kosiorek said they have the right to mail those cards, but he doesn't know if their campaign will have its intended effect.

"I don't know if it helps or hurts anyone's cause," he said.

While Kosiorek believes Hilton students are safe at school, both they and school staff have felt the emotional toll of the past week, compounded by the stresses of living in an era of school violence and shootings in the United States.

"We need, as a country, to get a better grip on what is happening so these young people, who are going to be our future,” he said. “It’s really a sad and dark time for this nation if this is going to become the norm."

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.