ROYERSFORD - Security was increased Friday at Spring-Ford Area Senior High and Middle schools in the wake of rumors that student safety might be compromised.

Though a notice on the district's Web site said classes at the high school were scheduled as usual, Superintendent Genevieve Coale said 440 students were absent Friday. She said the average number of daily absences is about 90.

"We take every threat seriously," Coale said, adding she and other members of the administration tried to answer every phone call concerning the rumors.

Limerick Police Chief William J. Albany said one high school student was charged with making threats and related offenses when officials questioned him about the circulating rumors. Bomb threats and reports of students bringing guns to school were among the rumors, Coale said.

Albany stressed the student has not been linked to the initial threats, only for those made during questioning.

Coale said several factors are believed to have fueled the rumors. One centers on reports the school administration received last week that a student made racially motivated comments toward another student in the Royersford area after school hours, Coale said.

Another possible factor stems from students who were found crawling through ceiling space at the high school, Coale said. Police investigated the incident, and Albany said he didn't believe the two high school students had any malicious intent by crawling through the ceiling.

Coale said the planned Ku Klux Klan rally this weekend in Valley Forge National Historical Park may also have contributed to the rumors.

Coale said she toured the high school Friday morning, while Assistant Superintendent Marsha Hurda checked out the high school, middle school and seventh grade center at the intermediate school.

"No students voiced concerns while I toured the building," Coale said.

Coale said the district has a crisis plan, and members of the administration were able to investigate the rumors so "by about 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, things had quelled down."

Albany and other police officers provided increased security at the high school Friday morning, and additional security measures were taken throughout the day, though Coale declined to elaborate. Bus drivers were asked to report any suspicious behavior, and teachers kept a close eye on activity in the schools, Coale added.

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