West Virginia Department of Education Supports Terrorism Legislation

December 17, 2001

Students who report false bomb threats will suffer tougher consequences thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 6002 during the most recent special session of the Legislature. The West Virginia Department of Education hopes the provisions set forth in the bill will encourage students to have second thoughts.  

Among the provisions of the bill, reporting false bomb threats will no longer be treated as a misdemeanor. Such a report was upgraded to a felony conviction that carries a penalty of up to $2,000 and/or confinement in the state prison for up to three years.  

“This definitely tells everyone that we mean business,” State Schools Superintendent Dr. David Stewart said. “Students who call in bomb threats just to get out of school will receive much more than that.”  

Not only will tougher penalties and fines be imposed, but also any costs sustained because of the threat may be applied and will be the responsibility of the perpetrator. Parents may be held financially responsible if their child is found guilty of falsely reporting such a threat.  

“Many do not realize that when a false threat of this magnitude is reported, it costs money,” Stewart noted. “Law enforcement officials and emergency workers must be called to check the schools and buildings for safety and security.” Bomb threats were not the only items included in the bill. Another provision included penalties for committing terrorists hoaxes. A hoax substance or device is defined in the new law as any “substance or device that is shaped, sized, colored, marked, imprinted, numbered, labeled, packaged, distributed, priced or delivered in a matter that causes a person to believe that the object is capable of causing serious bodily injury or damage to property or the environment.” Anyone who is found guilty of such an act also will be guilty of a felony and be fined up to $50,000 or confined up to five years in the state correctional facility, or both. Restitution charges also may be applied.  

“Since the attacks of Sept.11, there have been numerous cases of false threats of anthrax across the country and we don’t want these acts repeated in our schools,” Stewart said. “These are serious acts and will be dealt with on a more serious level.”  

The bill was passed on November 30, 2001, and was made effective from passage.