CUPERTINO -- Monta Vista High School was cleared of danger Thursday after graffiti threatening a bomb attack on a teacher prompted that school's closure as well as the shutdown of nearby Lincoln Elementary School while officers and bomb-sniffing dogs swept the campus, authorities said.
The Sheriff's Office was alerted about 6:40 a.m. to the threat, which came by way of San Jose police's discovery of graffiti at Lynbrook High School that claimed there was a bomb at Monta Vista. The graffiti threatened a Monta Vista teacher by name.
The teacher was in the protective custody of sheriff's deputies when the campus was declared safe just after 11 a.m. Sheriff's Lt. Rick Sung said deputies will be on hand when studentsreturn to campus Friday.
"We want people to feel safe at school," Sung said.
Sung said investigators are looking at a handful of leads in the threat. He declined to comment on students' claims that the teacher in question had been threatened earlier in the week.
He added that the protection afforded to the teacher is rare but was done because the threat singled out a particular person.
"It was very specific in nature, and something we have to take seriously and respond to right away," Sung said.
Sung also declined to comment on a photo circulated among students that purportedly shows the threatening graffiti. Students who provided the image to the Mercury News said it was from nearby Kennedy Middle School,
In the image, the vandal claims to have planted a bomb at Monta Vista and threatened to kill the teacher.
Jeremy Nishihara, spokesman for the Cupertino Union School District, confirmed that graffiti was discovered at the junior high campus Thursday morning and that the Sheriff's Office was alerted but would not speak to its content. It has since been painted over.
Bomb technicians and bomb-sniffing dogs were summoned to the Monta Vista campus around 7 a.m., the same time Monta Vista Principal April Scott sent out an alert to students and parents announcing that school would be closed for the day.
Three bomb-sniffing dogs -- including one from Stanford University -- conducted a classroom-by-classroom sweep of the school. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted.
Classes at the adjacent Lincoln Elementary were also canceled. Streets surrounding McClellan Road were opened at 11:10 a.m.
Celine Mol, a 16-year-old junior at Monta Vista, said she was driving to school when she noticed bicyclists and other cars heading in the opposite direction.
"They were saying go back, there's no school," Celine said.
Donovan Phua, also a 16-year-old junior, said he awoke to a litany of Facebook messages addressing the school closure, and soon got an automated message detailing the bomb threat.
Donovan said he and his classmates are taking the day in stride, though at the academically competitive school, it's with mixed opinions.
"Some are saying they have more time to study, others are wondering how they're going to pick up their homework," he said.
Similar past incidents have shown that such threats are typically hoaxes, but the Sheriff's Office said it must treat each instance as legitimate. While Monta Vista and Lynbrook are both in the Fremont Union High School District, students say any rivalry between the two schools is not strong enough to give additional context for this morning's threat, which came in the midst of preparation for the semester's final exams.
"Everyone thinks it's a joke or prank," Donovan said. "I sure hope it's a prank."
Staff writer Natalie Neysa Alund contributed to this report. Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.