Sharing false information on social media isn't helping school security, superintendent says

Superintendent Egnor: 'We need to be very careful to listen to official sources'

Volusia County Superintendent, Tim Egnor, says the district plans to retrain school principals and advisers.

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – In the wake of a security breach at a high school campus last week, Volusia County Superintendent Tim Egnor didn't mince words about the challenges schools face keeping students safe and implored the community to follow information from official sources and not inflame the situation by sharing social media posts with information unconfirmed by law enforcement.

Deputies said Derek Marlowe, 51, rode his bike past a Spruce Creek High School employee who was checking vehicles and students coming onto campus on Friday morning. A school staff member who saw Marlowe used his cellphone to call the campus adviser to report the incident, but never called it in through the school radio, a report said. A campus adviser acts as campus security, Egnor said.

Marlowe was taken into custody by the school resource officer about 15 minutes later after he entered a classroom full of students.

All the video and information about the Spruce Creek security breach has been turned over for the school district investigation and made public, according to Egnor. The Sheriff's Office released body camera video Tuesday showing Marlowe's arrest.

Security protocol wasn't followed when a code red wasn't initiated which would have locked down the school, school district officials said.

"Once they had reasonably concluded this was an intruder-- 'aka, Hey, I looked back and that didn't look like a student and I don't know who they are,' that campus adviser could have used his radio to call in a lock down immediately," Egnor said, adding that any staff who learned of the unknown man on campus could have called in a code red, too.

Egnor said the district plans to retrain all school principals on lock down procedures and schedule new training for campus advisers. At Spruce Creek, the guard house will be moved to the middle of the school entrance route to prevent someone from getting through. Marlowe rode his bike through the main entrance opposite the guard house. 

Egnor welcomed the media coverage of the incident, but criticized social media dissemination of false information, saying people are inflaming situations when they share from unofficial sources causing panic.

"When you retweet a lie or when you make up something just to cause panic and disruption that is as serious as a bomb threat and there should be penalties for those false reportings," Egnor said.

Egnor said he would like to see law enforcement treat sharing of false threats on social media like people who make bomb threats. Making a threat, even as a hoax, against a school, is a federal crime, according to the FBI.

When schools receive information about a possible threat, they perform a threat assessment and immediately call law enforcement, he said.

"We need to be very careful to listen to official sources," Egnor said. "I think we need to be very careful to listen to journalists who check their stories, who ask the right questions, who do the right research."

The superintendent said schools are between "a rock and a hard place" when it comes to school safety. He's heard from parents that they are concerned schools aren't welcoming and their children are being traumatized by security measures, but school officials want to keep students safe.

After Friday's incident, Egnor said there will likely be more lockdowns after retraining because instead of overthinking staff will call for a code red to avoid another mistaken breach.

"Too many people overthought the situation instead of falling back on their training," Egnor said.

Watch Egnor's full remarks in the post below.

WATCH LIVE: Volusia superintendent discusses Spruce Creek High School intruder

WATCH LIVE: Volusia superintendent discusses Spruce Creek High School intruder.

Posted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Wednesday, October 2, 2019