Around 2:40 p.m. Friday afternoon school staff were notified of a message written on the wall of a restroom stating, "There's a bomb in the Freshman Academy."
Director of schools Steve Starnes said a lock down was initiated, a thorough search was conducted and the proper authorities were alerted.
"When it was determined that no threat was imminent, a controlled release of students was conducted," Starnes added. "Hawkins County School's emergency procedures were followed precisely and all staff and students performed exceptionally well in implementing the plan. It is important that students be aware that any and all threats will be taken seriously and that students instigating such threats will be dealt with accordingly."
Hawkins County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tony Allen said the bomb threat is under investigation.
Regardless of whether the intent was a joke or a prank, anyone who makes a false bomb threat can be charged with Class C felony filing a false report.
For adults that charge carries a maximum penalty of 3-6 years in prison.
"It becomes a felony charge when it causes action of any sort by an emergency agency, it places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, or results in an evacuation," Allen said. "You always have to follow the proper procedures in a situation like this. The school system and the SRO did what they were supposed to do. A search was conducted, and nothing was found."
Starnes asked that anyone with information about the bomb threat report it to a Cherokee High School administrator by calling (423) 272-6507.
"Hawkins County Schools are committed to the safety and well-being of our students and staff and will continue to work diligently to provide all students with a safe learning environment," Starnes said.