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updated: 5/1/2014 10:49 PM

Teacher in jail on bomb threat charge

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Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- An Illinois high school special-education teacher was jailed without bond Thursday after state and federal prosecutors accused her of threatening to blow up her school through a note that warned, "This school is going down today. KABOOM!"

Illinois State Police say Michelle L. Smith, 36, of Jerseyville was charged in Calhoun County with falsely making a terrorist threat, and her bond was set at $500,000. But then federal prosecutors charged her with conveying a false threat, and she was taken into federal custody, where she was held without bail.

Authorities accuse Smith of leaving a computer-generated letter Monday in a ladies' bathroom at the roughly 170-student Calhoun County High School in Hardin, a 1,000-resident village near the Mississippi River, about 40 miles northwest of St. Louis.

"This school is going down today. KABOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" the note said, according to federal court filings. "I'm tired of all the people here. Everyone is going down ... So long and GOOD-BYE!!!!!!!!!"

The letter's discovery prompted an evacuation of the school, but a search that included explosives-detecting dogs found no bomb.

Smith was arrested the next day. Authorities have not said what may have prompted the threat or how they connected it to Smith.

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.

Authorities also offered no possible explanation for the bomb threat.

Smith's "about me" page on the high school's website was deactivated by Thursday.

"Actions such as these cause not only massive wastes of law enforcement resources, but strike fear into the hearts of parents and students alike," Stephen Wigginton, southern Illinois' U.S. attorney, said in a statement. "Because children should feel safe in their schools, we take these charges very seriously.

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