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State

Teacher jailed after bomb threat charge

ST. LOUIS (AP) – A western Illinois high school special-education teacher was jailed on paid administrative leave Thursday after being accused of making a bomb threat that forced her school to be evacuated.

Illinois State Police say Michelle L. Smith, 36, of Jerseyville is charged in Calhoun County with falsely making a terrorist threat. Her bond was set at $500,000.

Authorities accuse Smith of leaving a typed letter Monday in a bathroom at the roughly 170-student Calhoun County High School in Hardin, a 1,000-resident village about 40 miles northwest of St. Louis. Police said the note said a bomb had been placed in the school, which was evacuated. No explosive device was found.

Smith was arrested the next day.

It was not immediately clear if Smith has an attorney. She does not have a listed home telephone number.

While declining to discuss Smith’s possible motives for the threat or the teacher’s tenure with the school, district Superintendent Kate Sievers told The Associated Press that Smith has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a possible special meeting of the school board to address the matter.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is scheduled for May 19.

Sievers said the district has been consulting with its attorney, and “we will take the necessary measures we will need to from this point on.”

“My staff and students are safe, and Illinois State Police believe they have the right person in custody,” she said.

A state police news release that announced Smith’s arrest and the threat charge offered no possible explanation for the bomb threat.

Smith’s “about me” page on the high school’s website was deactivated by Thursday.

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