South Portland High School was dismissed early Monday after school officials found a “nonspecific threat” written on the wall of a bathroom. However, police determined the threat wasn’t credible.

When the message was discovered around 11 a.m., students were told to stay in their classrooms, school and police officials said. The decision to let school out early was made by district and school officials around 11:45 a.m.

Most students were on buses heading home about 15 minutes after the decision was made, said Timothy Matheney, the district superintendent. The school will reopen on time Tuesday morning, he said.

Neither Matheney or police would describe the message other than to call it a nonspecific threat. Matheney said a specific threat would have conveyed a message of imminent harm or suggested that there was a weapon in school –  nothing like that was in the message found Monday.

Police were called immediately after the message was discovered by two students. Neither Matheney nor Lt. Todd Bernard, the South Portland Police spokesman, would say in which bathroom the message was found, including whether it was a boys’ or girls’ bathroom.

“We agreed it was a low-level situation,” Matheney said, but school officials decided to send students home early. “There was no credible threat in this situation, and we dismissed students out of an abundance of caution.”


Matheney said parents were sent two emails Monday to explain what happened and let them know the high school would be open Tuesday.

“It’s business as usual tomorrow,” he said Monday afternoon.

After-school activities at the high school were canceled Monday, Matheney said. Other schools in the district were not affected.

Bernard said the school’s resource officer is investigating the incident, as are school officials. He said there are video cameras in the hallways, and if officials can narrow down when they believe the message was written, they can review the video footage and potentially identify who wrote it.

Matheney said school officials are also interviewing students and staff as part of their investigation into the incident.

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