School leaders are seeing ‘increase of students making false threats against their schools’

7 threats or acts of violence reported across Central Florida in last 11 days

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Parents in Orange County got yet another phone call, after another school threat - this time at Glenridge Middle School.

“This is principal Daniel Kempinger calling to let you know that I have been made aware of reports of a possible threat against our school,” the ConnectOrange call said Tuesday. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will have an increased presence of law enforcement on campus.”

This all happened Tuesday morning, around the same time Orange County School officials said they were also investigating a social media threat from Freedom High School.

It was also the same morning that increased law enforcement was brought in for security at East River High School following a shooting on campus after school in a parking lot. Orange County Sheriff’s Office said no one was hurt, but could not say Tuesday how many shots were fired, if it was a student involved and if any arrests were made.

The three incidents in 24 hours, however, add to an increase of reports of threats at schools, as explained by Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins in call to parents on Sunday.

“Recently, we have experienced increase of students making false threats against their schools. Some may think of it as a prank, but we take it seriously and must engage a formal threat assessment when we become aware of it,” Dr. Jenkins said on the call. “It doesn’t matter if they say it, texted, write it, snap it or post it on social media. Children who make threats can face serious consequences according to our code of conduct, and through law enforcement.”

Scott Howat, Orange County Public Schools’ chief communication officer, gave more context to the call.

“We felt like based on what we were seeing coming into our office, that Dr. Jenkins messaged needed to happen,” Howat said. “It’s something we wanted to make sure from a district that our parents understood, that they need to make sure they were checking their children’s social media, text messages, their backpacks and making sure they are aware that we take these threats seriously.”