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Threat leads to absences in northern Indiana schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — School districts in two northern Indiana counties reported widespread absences on Monday in the wake of authorities disclosing an anonymous threat warning that 20 schoolchildren would be harmed in area schools.

Elkhart Community Schools spokeswoman Jodee Shaw said between 60 percent and 70 percent of students in the district didn’t attend school on Monday, while Concord Community Schools Supt. Wayne Stubbs said 45 percent of students in the nearby district didn’t show up for classes.

School City of Mishawaka reported 39 percent of its students didn’t show up. Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. said 32 percent of students were out, and South Bend School Corp. would only say it had a higher level of absenteeism than usual.

“It is unfortunate that for many students, their educational pursuits were disrupted based on a written threat that created fear and alarm,” South Bend Superintendent Carole Schmidt said in a news release.

School officials said they were unaware of any problems.

“I just got back from going through all of our buildings all afternoon and things are going very smooth,” Stubbs said.

Authorities disclosed last week that on Jan. 21, graffiti was found in a bathroom stall at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in Elkhart threatening to harm students at five unspecified schools in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

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